Poverty: Young People

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 11th July 2012.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Minister (Public Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of people under the age of 18 were living below the poverty line in the UK in each of the last five years; and what steps he is taking to tackle the problem of youth poverty.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Child Poverty Act 2010 sets four income-based UK-wide targets to be met by 2020. The targets are based on the proportion of children living in households with relative low income, absolute low income, combined low income and material deprivation and persistent poverty, all before housing costs have been taken into account.

Estimates of the number and proportion of children living in households with relative low income, absolute low income and combined low income and material deprivation are published in the “Households Below Average Income” (HBAI) series. HBAI uses household income adjusted (or ‘equivalised’) for household size and composition, to provide a proxy for standard of living. The datasets that underlie the HBAI series can be used to estimate the proportion of people under the age of 18 in poverty by these measures.

Proportion of people under the age of 18 in relative low income, absolute low income and combined low income and material deprivation, before housing costs, in the UK 2006/07-2010/11
Percentage
  Relative low income Absolute low income Combined low income and material deprivation(1)
2006/07 22 13 16
2007/08 23 14 17
2008/09 22 13 17
2009/10 20 11 16
2010/11 18 11 14
(1) Proportion of dependent children (see Note 6)

The Government published their first strategy to tackle child poverty in April 2011. The strategy draws together the Government's radical programme of welfare and education reform. It underpins the Government's ambition for every child to realise their potential and reflects its belief that reducing poverty is about more than lifting families' incomes above an arbitrary line. It demonstrates that the Government are making a sustained, long-term attempt to lift people out of not only income poverty, but poverty of aspiration and poverty of outcomes. The child poverty strategy sets out how the Government will tackle the root causes of poverty such as worklessness, educational failure, debt, poor health and family breakdown, thereby raising the life chances of poorer children and breaking the cycle of entrenched intergenerational poverty.

It is particularly important that during this time of economic difficulty we ensure that a generation of young people is not left behind. The Government are making £126 million of new money available as part of the Youth Contract to give teenagers opportunities to train, work and get their lives on track. Under this Government, apprenticeship starts have increased at a record rate, with growth across all age ranges, in all sectors and throughout the country. In 2010/11, there were 131,700 apprenticeship starts for 16-18 year-olds—an increase of 12.8% on 2009/10.

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on households below average income (HBAI) data sourced from the 2010/11 Family Resources survey (FRS). This uses disposable household income, adjusted using modified OECD equivalisation factors for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living and is available at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=hbai_arc

2. These figures have been presented on a before housing costs basis. That means housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage interest payments, buildings insurance payments and ground rent and service charges) are not deducted from income.

3. All estimates are based on survey data and are therefore subject to a degree of uncertainty. Small differences should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.

4. The reference period for HBAI figures is the financial year.

5. Proportions have been rounded to the nearest percentage point.

6. Based on the FRS data, it is not possible to calculate material deprivation for all people under the age of 18 so the proportion of dependent children experiencing combined low income and material deprivation is provided. A dependent child is defined as an individual aged under 16. A person will also be defined as a child if they are 16 to 19 years old and they are: not married nor in a civil partnership nor living with a partner; living with parents; in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged government training.

7. The measures in the Child Poverty Act 2010 are defined as:

Relative poverty: children living in households with equivalised incomes below 60% of contemporary median household income.

Absolute poverty: children living in households with equivalised incomes below 60% of 1998/99 median household income held constant in real terms.

Low income and material deprivation: percentage of children living in households in material deprivation and with less than 70% of contemporary median household income.

Persistent poverty: children living in households who have had equivalised incomes below 60% of median household income for at least three out of the last four years.

8. In the past, persistent poverty measurement has been based on the British Household Panel survey, which has now been subsumed into the much larger Understanding Society survey. There is no publication for 2009 as there is a gap in the data as the respondents are moved into the understanding society sample. This means the last data covers the period 2005-08 and has not been reported here.

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