§ Mr. Bayley
Poverty and social exclusion are complex multi-dimensional issues, affecting many aspects of people's lives—including income, health, housing, the quality of their environment and opportunities to learn. There is no single measure that can capture the complex problems that need to be overcome.
However, a number of these aspects have seen significant improvement in the north west since 1997. For instance, the proportion of children achieving at least level 4 at key stage 2 has risen from 63 per cent. in 1997 to 75 per cent. in 2000 in English. In maths the proportion rose from 63 per cent. to 73 per cent. The numbers claiming Unemployment Benefit have fallen by over 35 per cent. since the election to 125,000 in March 2001. Unemployment has not been as low in the north west since May 1975. The percentage of pensioners in 1998–99 in low income households in the north west Government office region was 24 per cent. on the before housing costs measure and 27 per cent. on the after housing costs measure. This is similar to the level for Great Britain as a whole.
The annual report, "Opportunity for all" (CM4865), available in the Library, sets out and monitors the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion.
Low income figures are based on 60 per cent. median measures (including the self-employed) for 1998–99 which are the latest figures available.