§ Mr. Chris Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish an estimate of how much the real equivalent incomes of the bottom 5 per cent. and the top 5 per cent. of the population rose between 1978–79 and 1989–90, after payment of housing costs.
§ Mr. Scott
Because of the limitations of sample size and the variability of incomes at extremes of the income distribution, reliable estimates are not available for the lowest and highest 5 per cent. However, changes in the median incomes of those in the lower half of the income distribution are recorded in "Households Below Average Income, 1981–87", copies of which are available in the Library. When making comparisons with real income changes at the highest extreme of the income distribution, which rose by some 40 per cent. for the 95th percentile between 1979 and 1987, it is important to remember that household types, in terms of the numbers of earners per household, income composition and average tax rates are substantially different at the highest extreme, and are susceptible to greater variability over time. Figures beyond 1987 are not available.