Circles

Today the DWP published the most recent set of income and poverty statistics for the UK. They cover the year 2011/12 and show that xxxx
The most recent year’s figures are always going to be of interest but it’s worth putting these changes in context. Below we look back over the last 15 years, looking at overall levels of poverty as well as some of the changes in the distribution across the population.

Da da da da something about median income. This means that comparing the numbers of people in poverty on an absolute measure is important. But we do need to be consistent. In the “good” times, we wanted to look at “relative” income poverty, so the graph allows us to do that as well. By clicking on the buttons at the top of the graph, you can look at “absolute” or “relative” poverty and the lines adjust accordingly.

On the absolute measure, poverty fell substantially for all groups until around 2005, and much more slowly thereafter. In the last two years xxxxx. In fact, on this measure, poverty among working age adults rose since then.

On the relative measure, the falls in child and pensioner poverty were less pronounced up to 2005. Among working age adults, there was no fall at all. The period after 2005 splits into two – until 2008, there was a rise in poverty for children and working age adults, and no change for pensioners. In more recent years, poverty for children and pensioners began falling again, but carried on rising for working age adults. So however you measure it, poverty among working age adults rose over the last five years.

Having looked at the overall trends, we can now break down the data a little by certain characteristics. We look at the relative measure, again after housing costs. The first graph looks at family work status. A “full working” family is one where all the adults in the household are working, and at least one is working full time. A “part working” family has at least one adult in work, but either one adult is not working or the only work is part time. Self-employed, workless and retired families are hopefully self-explanatory.

The bars show the proportion of the whole population in each type of family who were in poverty in 1997. The pies underneath show the proportion of all people in poverty who were in each family type. So, in 1997, 4% of people in full working households were in poverty, and they made up 7% of everyone who was in poverty that year. By clicking on different years, you can look at how the patterns have changed over time.

There’s a few things to look at but one of the more striking findings is the change in the composition of poverty from out of work families to working families. This happened as long ago as 2002, but by this year xx% of all those in poverty were in a workless family, compared to y% in the three different working family types. Of these three, the largest is the part working family; those where either one adults is not working or no adult is working full time.

The third and final graph takes a similar approach to look at housing tenure. We said above that we calculate the proportion of people in poverty by measuring incomes after housing costs have been deducted. The graph shows this measure, by different tenure types. Again, the bars show the proportions in poverty, the pies show the proportion of all those in poverty who are in each tenure type

The big change here is away from social rented accommodation and towards private rental. In 1997, 56% of those in social rented housing were in poverty. By 2012, this had fallen to x%. Over the same period, the proportion of those in the private rented sector who lived in poverty fell more slowly, from 43% to y%. The rates are now very similar. But at the same time, the number of people living in the private rented sector rose from just over 5m to just under 10m, while the number of people living in social rented accommodation fell from 12m to 10m. The combined effect of these changing poverty risks and tenure trends is that while in 1997, around one half of all people in poverty were in the social rented sector, and one sixth in the private rented sector, the figure for both tenures is now one third.

So today’s poverty figures suggest some big changes. Certainly, the period of meaningful reductions in poverty is behind us, and most predictions see only rises in the future. Something something.

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