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Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2002

A comprehensive and independent guide, now in its fifth edition, to 50 indicators covering poverty, health, education and work.

Written by:
Guy Palmer, Mohibur Rahman and Peter Kenway
Date published:

As in previous years, this report – the fifth in an annual series – provides a comprehensive and independent guide to critical areas of policy. The latest available data is presented in the form of 50 indicators covering low income, health, education and work. Flanked by chapters on income and communities, the four central sections set out the evidence as it relates to children, young people, adults and older people. Overall, the indicators present a positive picture: half show improvement over the previous year, compared with a quarter that have deteriorated.

The success stories range from growing numbers of children leaving schools with qualifications to a significant reduction in the number of households without central heating. On the other hand, low pay and other disadvantages at work remain prevalent and the number of households in temporary accommodation continues to rise. In particular, the report measures the Government’s success in tackling child poverty.

By 2000/01, there were 3.9 million children living in low-income homes. This was 200,000 fewer than a year earlier and half a million below the peak figure reached in 1996/97. Yet the numbers remain historically high and other evidence suggests that further progress on tackling child poverty cannot be taken for granted.


The New Policy Institute has produced its fifth annual report of indicators of poverty and social exclusion. The data is the most comprehensive and up-to-date available.

  • In 2000/01, there were 13 million people living in relative low-income households. This is a fall of 1 million - or 7 per cent - since 1996/97. The falls thus far have only been sufficient to bring the numbers back to the 1995/96 levels and are still almost double those of twenty years ago.
  • Three-fifths of people wanting paid work are economically inactive - chiefly lone parents and those who are sick and disabled - compared with two-fifths who are officially (ILO) unemployed. This is a reversal of the position from a decade ago.
  • Low pay remains prevalent, with an estimated 2 million adults paid at or just above the national minimum wage. Those in low-paid jobs are very unlikely to get any work-related training.
  • There were substantial reductions in the number of pupils failing to achieve basic education qualifications throughout the 1990s. For example, a quarter of 16-year-olds failed to achieve any GCSEs above a D in 2001 compared with a third in the mid-1990s.
  • Levels of obesity and treatment for drug misuse have been rising. Accidental deaths among children, youth suicide and underage pregnancies have been falling. In all cases, lower socio-economic groups are affected disproportionately.
  • Many fewer households, including poorer households, now lack central heating than five years ago.
  • The number of burglaries continues to decline, down to almost half of its peak in the early 1990s.
  • The number of households in temporary accommodation has almost doubled over the last five years.
  • Despite government initiatives, a fifth of the poorest households still remain without any type of bank or building society account.
  • Half of all low-income households still lack household contents insurance. Households without insurance are three times more likely to be burgled than those with insurance.
  • Two-thirds of heads of households in social housing do not have paid work, the same as a decade ago.


The report is the fifth in an annual series, Monitoring poverty and social exclusion, with the indicators updated for an extra year's data. In most cases the latest data is either 2001 or 2002, the main exceptions being the data on income distribution (for which the latest statistics are 2000/01) and on health (2000).

Whilst income is the focus of many of the indicators, they also cover a wide range of other subjects including health, education, work, and community. The indicators are grouped into six chapters, with the four central chapters dividing the population by age (children, young adults, adults and older people), an initial chapter on income and a final chapter on communities.

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