Wednesday, 6 December 2017

UK child poverty gaps increasing


UNIVERSITY OF YORK
Social Policy Research Unit

UK child poverty gaps increasing but small reductions in deprivation


Updated 6/12/17                   

There has always been a debate in the world of poverty measurement about whether we should be more concerned about poverty rates (the proportion below a poverty threshold) or poverty gaps (how far people in poverty are below the poverty threshold). Is it better for a country to have many children a little way below the poverty threshold or few children below the poverty threshold, but a long way below it? The UK has tended in the past to have comparatively high poverty rates but comparatively low poverty gaps. This has been thanks to a fairly comprehensive but quite low minimum income scheme.  But since the recession our minimum income scheme has been undermined by benefits caps, the two child limit, the bedroom tax, local rent limits, real cuts, the failure to uprate child tax credits and child benefits, the localisation of council tax benefit and sanctions.

 The most recent HBAI statistics for 2015-16 produced by the DWP show an increase in child poverty rates, the first for a decade. The HBAI series have never included poverty gap data. There are some good reasons for this: the calculation is rather arcane (for households below the poverty threshold, the average of how far their incomes are from the poverty threshold); the statistic is subject to outliers (including negative incomes); and quite large sampling errors, even in a survey as large as the Family Resources Survey.

 Nevertheless they are worth having a look at – especially for trend data over time. Poverty rates may be falling when poverty gaps are rising and vice versa. For the Child Poverty Action Group we have analysed trends in the poverty gaps for families with children from 2007/8 to 2015/16 and the results are presented in tables 1 and 2 and figure 1.


It is probably safest to focus on the median poverty gap and all families with children. There has been an increase in the poverty gap, both before and after housing costs. In 2007/8 the median poverty gap before housing costs was £41.60 per week by 2015/16 it had increased to £50.60 per week.  After housing costs the increase was from £50.40 per week in 2007/8 to £61.80 per week in 2015/16. Over the same period the child poverty rates had fallen both before and after housing costs.

 Table 1: Poverty gaps average £ per week BHC

£ per week
 
2007/8
2008/9
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
Lone parent       
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
47.00 (42.56)
48.17 (48.67)
48.32 (48.48)
47.56 (50.60)
55.05 (48.25)
63.32 (59.55)
53.87 (54.56)
61.96 (61.28)
66.25 (64.09)
95% CI for the mean
46.92-47.08
48.07-48.26
48.22-48.43
47.44-47.68
54.93-55.16
63.18-63.46
53.73-54.00
61.82-62.10
66.11-66.38
Median
35.60
32.60
32.00
31.80
41.20
45.00
33.80
37.80
45.60
Couple with children
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
66.34 (59.68)
70.30 (63.19)
70.12 (64.65)
68.22 (62.88)
63.59 (60.44)
74.68 (71.49)
68.89 (63.07)
75.39 (68.55)
72.47 (69.57)
95% CI for the mean
66.25-66.42
70.21-70.39
70.03-70.22
68.12-68.31
63.50-63.69
74.57-74.79
68.79-68.99
75.29-75.49
72.37-72.57
Median
47.60
48.60
49.00
48.80
45.20
51.00
50.80
54.80
51.60
All families with children
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
59.04 (54.67)
62.18 (59.25)
63.21 (60.85)
62.08 (60.24)
61.07 (57.24)
71.33 (68.38)
64.92 (61.29)
71.25 (66.68)
70.45 (67.90)
95% CI for the mean
58.98-59.11
62.11-62.25
63.14-63.29
62.00-62.16
60.99-61.14
71.24-71.42
64.84-65.00
71.17-71.33
70.36-70.53
Median
41.60
42.60
44.00
42.80
44.20
49.00
46.80
49.80
50.60
Total no. of children
12,975,932
12,965,385
13,150,415
13,206,669
13,266,967
13,349,935
13,329,444
13,480,133
13,541,132
% children in poverty
22.5
21.9
19.8
17.6
17.6
17.3
17.0
18.8
19.6
Source: Own analysis of HBAI

Table 2: Poverty gaps average £ per week AHC

£ per week
 
2007/8
2008/9
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
Lone parent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
57.66 (49.57)
59.83 (61.61)
59.95 (61.36)
59.31 (57.62)
60.62 (57.41)
66.90 (67.50)
63.02 (65.57)
75.69 (69.65)
78.04 (72.42)
95% CI for the mean
57.58-57.73
59.74-59.93
59.85-60.05
59.21-59.41
60.52-60.72
66.79-67.02
62.90-63.13
75.57-75.80
77.93-78.16
Median
46.40
43.00
44.20
41.80
47.00
46.40
46.60
54.40
57.80
Couple with children
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
78.01 (84.23)
81.62 (80.61)
78.67 (80.98)
78.10 (74.65)
76.46 (78.29)
80.47 (83.21)
81.55 (75.57)
85.14 (81.50)
90.76 (107.84)
95% CI for the mean
77.91-78.12
81.52-81.72
78.57-78.77
78.00-78.19
76.36-76.57
80.37-80.58
81.46-81.65
85.04-85.24
90.63-90.90
Median
52.40
57.00
57.20
57.80
56.00
55.40
62.60
61.40
63.80
All families with children
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mean (SD)
70.02 (73.30)
73.29 (74.68)
71.86 (74.99)
71.44 (69.68)
70.78 (71.90)
75.59 (78.20)
75.16 (72.82)
81.80 (77.66)
85.95 (96.19)
95% CI for the mean
69.95-70.09
73.22-73.37
71.79-71.94
71.36-71.51
70.70-70.85
75.51-75.68
75.09-75.24
81.72-81.88
85.86-86.05
Median
50.40
52.00
52.20
50.80
52.00
51.40
55.60
57.40
61.80
Total no. of children
12,975,932
12,965,385
13,150,415
13,206,669
13,266,967
13,349,935
13,329,444
13,480,133
13,541,132
% children in poverty
31.4
30.3
29.5
27.3
27.1
27.2
27.8
29.0
29.6
Source: Own analysis of HBAI

 

Tables 3 shows trends in child deprivation and Table 4 trends in deprivation for adults in families with children. Most of the child indicators show slight reductions in deprivation since 2007/8 – the exception is a holiday away from home. For adults lack of a holiday away from home and contents insurance have increased since 2007/8.

 
Table 3            Percentage of children lacking necessities in 2007/8 to 2015/16 (weighted by GS_NEWCH)

Item
2007/8
2008/9
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
Outdoor space or facilities nearby where they can play safely
14.8
13.1
11.2
9.5
8.7
9.6
7.4
7.5
7.1
Enough bedrooms for every child over 10 of different sex to have his or her own bedroom
16.9
17.7
18.4
15.7
13.6
15.1
16.9
16.5
14.2
Celebrations on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other religious festivals
4.1
3.4
3.6
2.9
2.7
3.2
2.9
2.2
2.3
Leisure equipment (for example, sports equipment or a bicycle)
7.6
7.6
7.5
6.9
6.4
7.4
6.4
6.3
6.1
A holiday away from home at least one week a year with his or her family
32.3
35.6
37.4
37.3
38.3
38.0
36.4
34.8
33.9
A hobby or leisure activity
6.9
7.3
7.5
6.2
5.9
6.4
7.5
6.8
6.4
Friends round for tea or a snack once a fortnight
7.8
8.9
8.7
7.3
6.3
6.7
8.5
7.2
7.3
Going on a school trip at least once a term for school-aged children
5.4
5.7
6.4
4.7
5.0
5.1
6.1
5.2
4.5
Play group/nursery/toddler group at least once a week for children of pre-school age
8.3
6.9
6.8
5.3
6.0
5.1
4.3
4.5
3.9
Source: Family Resources Survey 2007/08 to 2014/15.

 
Table 4            Percentage of adults in families with children lacking necessities in 2007/8 to 2014/15 (weighted by GS_NEWPP)

Item
2007/8
2008/9
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
2012/13
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
Enough money to keep your home in a decent state of repair
18.1
19.1
18.5
18.1
21.4
20.8
20.3
18.6
17.1
A holiday away from home for one week a year, not staying with relatives
36.2
39.1
41.1
42.1
42.8
43.4
42.8
40.9
38.9
Insurance of contents of dwelling
17.8
18.0
19.0
19.2
19.8
21.4
21.5
20.6
20.1
Regular savings (of £10 a month) for rainy days or retirement
38.8
40.7
42.1
41.2
41.1
42.9
40.6
39.0
35.5
Replace any worn out furniture
28.8
32.1
33.7
34.3
34.1
35.5
34.2
31.1
28.6
Replace or repair broken electrical goods such as refrigerator or washing machine
20.4
23.5
23.5
24.9
24.7
25.7
24.5
22.1
20.0
A small amount of money to spend each week on yourself, not on your family
31.5
33.2
34.2
34.2
36.7
38.2
36.8
33.2
29.1
Source: Family Resources Survey 2007/08 to 2014/15.