- Many people on low incomes say that they cannot afford selected essential items or activities – but so do quite a lot of people on average incomes.
- The essential items that are mostly commonly lacking are those which are directly money-related.
- Regular holidays are by far the most common ‘essential’ item that children in low-income households lack because their parents say that they cannot afford them.
- In 1999, two-fifths of all households lacked one or more essentials and a fifth lacked three or more.
Why this indicator was originally chosen
The consequences of income poverty are that people cannot afford goods, services and activities which are deemed to be essential in contemporary society. This indicator examines the extent to which households lack such essentials.
Definitions and data sources
The graphs in this indicator look at the proportion of families who ‘do not have because they cannot afford’ particular kinds of ‘essential’ items and activities. ‘Do not have because they cannot afford’ means that the households lacks the item/activity due to hardship rather than choice. ‘Essential’ means that more than half of the population consider the item/activity to be a necessity in contemporary society.
The first two graphs provide an analysis of the Family Resources Survey. For each of a selected number of ‘essential’ items/activities 1, they show the proportion of families who ‘do not have it because they cannot afford it’, with the data shown separately for households in the poorest fifth and for households on average incomes. The data relates to the United Kingdom and, to improve its statistical reliability, is the average for the latest three years. Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs, where the income has been equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.
The data in the second graph relates to items considered to be essential for adults, whilst the data in the third graph relates to items considered to be essential for children. Families without dependent children are excluded from the analysis in the third graph.
The third to fifth graphs provides an analysis of a once-off survey entitled Millennium Survey of Poverty and Social Exclusion, 1999 which asked questions about thirty five essential items/activities. The data relates to Great Britain.
For each of the thirty five essential items/activities, the third graph shows the proportion of households who ‘do not have it because they cannot afford it’.
The fourth graph groups these thirty five items into six groups, namely money-related, clothes, activities, related to the home, food and consumer durables. For each group, the graph shows the average proportion of households who ‘do not have because they cannot afford’ an item/activity in the group. So, for example, the 2.4% figure for ‘food’ is the average of the 4.1%, 3.3%, 1.7% and 0.5% proportions for ‘fresh fruit and vegetables daily’, ‘roast joint/vegetarian equivalent once a week’, ‘meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day’ and ‘two meals a day’ from the first graph.
The fifth graph shows the proportion of households who lack because they cannot afford a particular number of essential items/activities. So, for example, 22% of households lack at least three of the items/activities.
Overall adequacy of the indicator: limited. The data is subjective and, as illustrated in the first graph, many households with average incomes nevertheless say that they cannot afford essential items/activities.
- See the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2000 report entitled Poverty and social exclusion in Britain.
- See the Family Budget Unit site.
- See the money advice trust information hub, which is a website that provides access to a range of information for people with an interest in money advice, credit, debt and debt remedies and recovery.
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.
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:
- reducing the proportion of children in workless households by 5% between spring 2005 and spring 2008; and
- increasing the proportion of parents with care on Income Support and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance who receive maintenance for their children by 65% by March 2008.
All numbers are as shown in the graphs.