Press release

Low income statistics: lowest levels since 1980s

Latest statistic show the percentage of individuals and children in relative low income is at its lowest level since the 1980s.

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The latest low incomes statistics based on the Households below average income report (HBAI), are published today (25 June 2015), covering April 2013 to March 2014. They show the percentage of individuals and children in relative low income is at its lowest level since the 1980s.

In 2013/14 the average (median) real terms household income before housing costs (BHC) remained unchanged from 2012/13 at £453 a week. Average household income after housing costs (AHC) was also unchanged from 2012/13 at £386.

Relative low income is based on those living below 60% of median income. Absolute low income is assessed against median income in 2010/11, adjusted for Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation.

The latest figures show that the proportion of people in both relative and absolute low income remained flat for children, working age adults and disabled people. For pensioners, the proportion in relative and absolute low income both increased, but it was not statistically significant.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:

These statistics show that the proportion of individuals with low income is now at the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

We know that work is the best route out of poverty, with children in workless families around 3 times as likely to be in poverty than those in working families. That is why, as part of our long-term economic plan, our reforms to the welfare system are focused on making work pay, while our reforms to the tax system are allowing people to keep more of what they earn.

Latest figures show UK employment has reached an all-time high, with employment up more than 2 million since 2010, and the number of households where no one works is the lowest since records began.

Read the latest Households Below Average Income statistics.

Note: Results are from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). 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.

More information

All individuals

The percentage of individuals in relative low income has been decreasing gradually and is at its lowest level since the 1980s, at 15% in 2013/14 BHC, stable compared to 2012/13.

These latest figures BHC show 9.6 million individuals in relative low income, whilst there were 10.4 million under the absolute low income measure.

Children

The percentage of children in relative and absolute low-income households remained flat in 2013/14, as did the combined low income and material deprivation and severe low income and material deprivation figures for children.

The percentage of children in relative low income BHC remained flat at 17%, its lowest level since the 1980s. This series saw a general decrease between 2007/08 and 2010/11, and has remained broadly stable to 2013/14.

Similarly, the percentage of children in absolute low income BHC in 2013/14 was stable at 19%. After an increase in 2011/12, this percentage remains slightly higher than the 2010/11 level. The latest figures BHC show 2.3 million children in relative low income, whilst there were 2.6 million under the absolute low income measure.

Working-age adults

14% of working-age adults were in relative low income BHC, flat from 2012/13.

15% of working-age adults were in absolute low income BHC in 2013/14, similarly unchanged from 2012/13.

These latest figures BHC show 5.4 million working-age adults in relative low income, whilst there were 5.8 million under the absolute low income measure.

Pensioners

In 2013/14, the proportion of pensioners in relative and absolute low income AHC both increased by 1 percentage point to 14% and 16% respectively. These changes were not statistically significant.

These latest figures AHC show 1.6 million pensioners in relative low income, whilst there were 1.9 million under the absolute low income measure.

Disability analysis

The FRS definition of disability changed in 2012/13 and, as such, comparisons between figures from 2012/13 and previous years should be made with caution.

The percentage of individuals in relative low income BHC in families where at least 1 member is disabled remained unchanged in 2013/14 at 20%.

The percentage of individuals in absolute low income in families where at least 1 member is disabled remained unchanged at 22% BHC.

These latest figures BHC for those living in families where at least 1 member is disabled show 3.7 million individuals in relative low income, whilst there were 4.1 million under the absolute low income measure.

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Published 25 June 2015