National poverty data
Poverty is a major problem across the UK. In 2019/20 14.5 million people were living below the poverty line – made up of 8.1 million working-age adults, 4.3 million children and 2.1 million pensioners.
For those of us working locally, it can be useful to look at national poverty data, particularly trend data, to understand what is happening to poverty over time. Many of the national trends (poverty by family type, work status etc…) are likely to be replicated in Greater Manchester. Using national poverty data, this page presents a selection of information about levels and trends in poverty in the UK. With the exception of chart 8, the charts on this page use data from the Household Below Average Income data series.
Over the years child poverty has remained high. In 2019-20 child poverty was just above 30%, higher than the poverty rate for the population as a whole (and higher than the working-age and pensioner poverty rates). Working-age poverty has remained at a similar level of a long period of time. However, pensioner poverty has seen massive reductions in the last 25 years, but a small increase has occurred in the last few years.
Chart 2: Child poverty rate by family type over time
Children in lone parent families have always been at greater risk of poverty compared to children living in couple families. The chart shows that the ‘risk gap’ narrowed considerably during the noughties as the poverty rate among children in lone parents families fell markedly. More recently, the poverty rate for children in lone parent families has begun to increase, reaching 49% in 2019/20. In contrast, the poverty rate among children in couple families has remained fairly stable over a long period of time
Chart 3: Poverty rate by disability in the household over time
People living in households where at least one person has a disability have always been at greater risk of poverty compared to those people living in households where no one is disabled. The chart shows that the ‘risk gap’ narrowed during the noughties, but that it has begun to increase over recent years.
Chart 4: Poverty rate by number of children in the family over time
This chart shows that the risk of poverty for children living in families with three or more children fell in the period up to 2012/13. However, the risk of poverty for these children remains higher than for those children living in families with one or two children. The risk of poverty for children in larger families has been rising since 2012/13 and stood at 47% in 2019/20. Recent increases can in part be put down to the two child limit on children’s benefits. In contrast, the risk of poverty for children in one or two children households was slightly lower in 2019/20 than it was at the end of the noughties.
Chart 5: Poverty rate by English region in 2019/20
All regions of England have a significant number of people living in poverty, with the North-East experiencing the highest rate. London, West Midlands and Yorkshire have similarly high rates of poverty. Nearly a third of people are living in poverty in the North-West and East Midlands The southern regions and the East of England have the lowest levels of poverty within England.
Chart 6: Poverty rate by ethnicity in 2019/20
The chart shows that people from Asian backgrounds, in particular Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds experience the highest risk of poverty. Black/African/Caribbean/British groups also experience high levels of poverty, with just over 40% living below the poverty line. Households from Chinese backgrounds experience the lowest levels of poverty.
Chart 7: Poverty rate by age of youngest child in the family in 2019/20
This chart shows that children in families with younger children are more likely to be in poverty. Nearly one third of children in families where the youngest child is aged 0-4 are in poverty.
Chart 8: Problem debt by household income quintile in 2018/19
This chart shows that problem debt is a much more serious problem for low income households. In 2018/19, 17% of the poorest fifth of households were experiencing problem debt and behind on their bills.
NB: The source for this chart is: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-resources-survey-financial-year-201819
Chart 9: Composition of working-age poverty by household work status in 2019/20
This chart shows the composition of working-age poverty by household work status. In 2019/20, 4 in 10 people experiencing working-age poverty were living in households where no one was in work (‘workless). However, poverty remains a risk factor for households where at least one person is in work as illustrated by the chart.
Chart 10: Pensioner poverty rate by housing tenure over time
Pensioner poverty varies considerably by housing tenure. Whilst pensioner poverty was lower in 2019/20 for all groups shown in the chart compared to the mid-1990s, it has been on the increase for pensioners living in socially and privately rented accommodation in recent years. In contrast, pensioner poverty for owner occupiers remains low.
With the exception of chart 8, the charts on this page use data from the Household Below Average Income data series. This provides national poverty statistics for the UK and was most recently published in March 2021 for the period up to 2019/20 (i.e. the period immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). The figures shown on this page are for poverty measured as those households with incomes below 60% of median income (the main measure of poverty) measured after housing costs have been taken into account.
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