HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 cc879-80W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners his Department estimates have been living in persistent poverty in each of the last seven years. [172005]

Mr. Pond

The Department for Work and Pension's strategy report 'Opportunity for all' (OFA) reports on persistent poverty, and provides results for individuals with an equivalised income below 60 per cent. of the median for at least three out of four successive years. A time series showing the proportion of pensioners in persistent poverty using this definition is presented in the following table:

Proportion below 60 per cent. of median income in at least 3 out of 4 years
Percentage of pensioners
1992 to 1995 16
1993 to 1996 16
1994 to 1997 17
1995 to 1998 17

Proportion below 60 per cent. of median income in at least 3 out of 4 years
Percentage of pensioners
1996 to 1999 18
1997 to 2000 17
1998 to 2001 18
1. Source: British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which is carried out by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) UK Longitudinal Studies Centre at the University of Essex.
2. The latest date for which BHPS data are available is the calendar year 2001. Figures for the calendar year 2002 will be published in the second half of 2004.
3. Persistent poverty using this definition is measured over four-year periods. The table presents figures for the most recent seven four-year periods.
4. Estimates are for Great Britain.
5. The definition used in the answer is used in the Government's Opportunity for all report (Cm 5956), which is available in the Library. This gives indicators of persistent low income for children, working age adults and older people using both 60 and 70 per cent. of overall median income as the thresholds for low income.
6. Using four-year windows to estimate the proportion in persistent low income, and the way in which response patterns vary within each of the survey years, has meant that it is not possible to present robust estimates of the numbers in persistent poverty using the BHPS survey. For this reason, proportions have been presented.

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