HC Deb 06 December 1999 vol 340 cc372-3W
Mr. Jim Murphy

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many families were officially living in poverty(a) in each of the past 20 years, (b) on 1 May 1997 and (c) on the most recent date available. [101309]

Mr. Bayley

Poverty and social exclusion are complex multi-dimensional issues, affecting many aspects of people's lives; their income, health, housing, the quality of the environment, opportunities to work and to learn. There is no single measure which can capture the complex problems which need to be overcome.

We are determined to tackle the problems that condemn many individual and communities to poverty. That is why we set out our strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion in our first annual report "Opportunity for all" (Cm 4445). The report includes a range of indicators that capture many of the aspects of poverty and social exclusion.

Information on the indicators, including definitions and baseline data, was placed in the Library on 21 September to accompany "Opportunity for all". One of the indicators monitors the proportion of people living in low income households. Further information on low income statistics are published (annually in recent years) in Households Below Average Income (HBAI). The results can be found in the HBAI publication for the relevant year in the Library.

Pensioner benefit units receiving Income Support (private households) Great Britain, (1987–99)
Year IS pensioners Percentage Couples Percentage Single Percentage
May 1988 1,598,000 19.5 281,000 7.8 1,317,000 28.5
May 1989 1,461,000 17.7 233,000 6.4 1,229,000 26.5
May 1990 1,514,000 18.2 247,000 6.5 1,267,000 27.9
May 1991 1,381,000 16.5 211,000 5.5 1,170,000 25.7
May 1992 1,419,000 17.0 227,000 5.9 1,192,000 26.5
May 1993 1,503,000 17.6 266,000 6.7 1,237,000 27.1
May 1994 1,538,000 18.3 279,000 7.2 1,259,000 27.8
May 1995 1,555,000 18.6 284,000 7.2 1,272,000 28.5
May 1996 1,533,000 18.3 279,000 7.1 1,254,000 28.5
May 1997 1,486,000 17.5 263,000 6.5 1,223,000 27.5
May 1998 1,433,000 n/a 251,000 n/a 1,182,000 n/a
May 1999 1,405,000 n/a 244,000 n/a 1,161,000 n/a


1. Pensioner benefit units in private households exclude claimants in Residential care and Nursing Homes.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand, percentages given to one decimal place.

3. Figures refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or couple.

4. Income Support for the unemployed was replaced by Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance from October 1996. Income Support figures from 1997 exclude unemployed.

5. Pensioners are defined as benefit units where either the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 or over.

6. Income Support figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample up to 1993 and a 5 per cent. sample thereafter.

7. All Percentages are Income Support benefit units expressed as a proportion of all pensioner benefit units (private households).

8. The percentages quoted are based on pensioner benefit units estimates for Great Britain private households taken from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) for 1993–94 to 1997–98 and the Family Expenditure Survey HBAI datasets from 1988 to 1992.

9. FRS estimates are based on sample counts that have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors that control for region, Council Tax Band and a number of demographic variables. Estimates are subject to sampling error and to variability in non-response.

10. Details of all pensioner benefit units are not yet available for 1999 therefore no percentage is given for this year.


1. Income Support Statistics Annual Enquiries, May 1987-May 1993.

2. Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiries, May 1994-May 1999.

3. Family Resources Survey.

4. Family Expenditure Survey HBAI datasets from 1988 to 1992.