United Kingdom

Low income by family type

Key points


Graph 1: By family type

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Graph 2: Depth of low income

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Why this indicator was originally chosen

The prevalence of low income varies greatly by family type.


Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows how the risks of being in a low-income household have changed for people in different family types.  Note that a couple (and therefore both of its adults) is classified as a pensioner couple if either of the adults is of pensionable age.

The second graph shows, by family type, the number of people living in low-income households.  For simplicity reasons, some of the family types from the first graph have been grouped together.  Note that working-age adults living with a pensionable-age spouse are counted in the pensioner family type.

The data source for both graphs is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  The data relates to the United Kingdom.  Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs.  The main low-income threshold is the same as that used elsewhere, namely 60% of contemporary median household income, with the second graph also showing the numbers below 40% and 50%.  The data is equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.  The self-employed are included in the statistics.  Note that in 2007 DWP made some technical changes to how it adjusted household income for household composition (including retrospective changes) and, as a result, the data is slightly different than previously published figures.  The averaging over three-year periods has been done to improve statistical reliability.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The FRS is a well-established annual government survey, designed to be representative of the population as a whole.


External links


Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Halve the number of children in poverty by 2010-11, on the way to eradicating child poverty by 2020.

Lead department

HM Treasury.

Official national targets

Reduce by a half the number of children living in relative low-income by 2010/11.

Other indicators of progress

Number of children in absolute low-income households.

Number of children in relative low-income households and in material deprivation.

Previous 2004 targets

Halve the number of children in relative low-income households between 1998/99 and 2010/11, on the way to eradicating child poverty by 2020, including:

By 2008, be paying Pension Credit to at least 3.2 million pensioner households.  While maintaining a focus on the most disadvantaged by ensuring that at least 2.2 million of these households are in receipt of the Guarantee Credit.


The numbers

Graph 1

Family typeAverage of 1996/97 to 1998/99 Average of 2006/07 to 2008/09
Working-age couples without dependent children10% 12%
Working-age singles without dependent children23% 25%
In working-age couples with dependent children 23% 23%
In working-age singles with dependent children 63% 50%
Single pensioners38% 20%
Pensioner couples22% 16%

Graph 2

Millions of people

Family type Below 40% of median40-50% of median50-60% of median
In working-age couple families with dependent children2.0M 1.2M 1.4M
In working-age families without dependent children2.2M 0.9M 0.9M
In lone parent families0.8M 0.8M 0.9M
In pensioner families0.7M 0.6M 0.9M