It provides unparalleled detail about deprivation and exclusion among the British population at the close of the twentieth century. The survey uses a particularly powerful scientific approach to measuring poverty which:
- incorporates the views of members of the public, rather than judgements by social scientists, about what are the necessities of life that all adults and children should be able to afford;
- calculates the levels of deprivation that constitutes poverty by using scientific methods, rather than arbitrary decisions.
The Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey is also the first national study to attempt to measure social exclusion, and to introduce a methodology for poverty and social exclusion which is internationally comparable. Britain has become an increasingly polarised nation in the last two decades.
The report shows that the proportion of households living in poverty in terms of both low income and multiple deprivation of necessities increased from 14 per cent of households in 1983, to 20 per cent in 1990 and over 24 per cent in 1999. There is considerable unease about the consequences of this increase in deprivation and the lack of social justice that it implies.
One of the most important tasks facing Britain is the ending of poverty and social exclusion; this report clearly sets out the scale of the task and will be of interest to all those involved in tackling these inequalities.