HC Deb 20 April 2004 vol 420 cc446-7W
Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate for (a) 1979, (b) 1996–97 and (c) 2002–03 the number of individual pensioners living in households with income below 60 per cent. of median income after housing costs; and of these how many were (i) men and (ii) women. [166250]

Malcolm Wicks

The requested information is provided in the table.

Number of pensioners (millions) living below 60 per cent of

contemporary median income (After Housing Costs)

Year Male Female All Pensioners
1979 0.9 1.6 2.5
1996–97 0.8 1.9 2.7
2002–03 0.8 1.3 2.2


All figures are estimates and are taken from the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) series. Family Expenditure Survey (FES) data is used for 1979, while Family Resource Survey data is used for 1996–97 and 2002–03. FES figures relate to single calendar years whereas FRS figures are for single financial years.

Comparisons between results for 1979 and those for the later years should be regarded as approximate, due to the change in data source and grossing regime.

Estimates are for Great Britain and are quoted to the nearest 0.1 million. Totals for male and female pensioners may not add up to 'All pensioners' due to rounding.

The estimates are sample counts, which have been adjusted for non-response using milti-purpose grossing factors that, in the case of the Family Resources Survey, control for tenure, Council Tax band and a number of other variables. Estimates are subject to both sampling error and to variability in non-response.

The income measure used is weekly net (disposable) equivalised household income (that is to say income that is adjusted to reflect the composition of the household). Figures are quoted on an After Housing Costs basis, and include the self-employed.

Caution should be taken when making comparisons between gender using HBAI data. HBAI attempts to measure living standards as determined by household income; consequently both partners in a couple will appear at the same position in the income distribution. Any differences in figures can only be driven by gender differences for single adults, which will themselves be diluted by the figures for couples.