Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in the UK 2006
The ninth in a series providing an independent assessment of progress in eliminating poverty and reducing social exclusion. The report covers issues from work and education to health and housing.
The report covers issues from work and education to health and housing. The analysis is built around a set of 50 indicators organised into six chapters, four focused on particular age groups, one looking at low income and one at community issues.
The report provides an overall picture of what has happened to poverty and social exclusion since the Labour Government came into office in 1997. Its conclusions include:
- Half of all the children still in poverty are living in families doing paid work. Unless the scale of in-work poverty can be reduced, future substantial reductions in child poverty are very unlikely.
- The big fall in poverty among pensioners has been a major success of the anti-poverty strategy. By contrast, the failure to reduce poverty among working-age adults has been a major weakness.
- Progress in the numbers reaching ‘headline’ standards at age 11 and 16 has been made but this diverts attention from the quarter of 19-year-olds who fail to reach a minimum educational standard.
The New Policy Institute has produced its ninth annual report of indicators of poverty and social exclusion providing a comprehensive analysis of trends over time and differences between groups.
- Poverty among children. Government has turned the tide on child poverty but has fallen short of its target of taking one million children out of poverty. Half the children in poverty are in families already doing paid work; this means the key proposition behind the anti-poverty strategy - that ‘work is the route out of poverty’ - does not apply for many people. The underlying problem is low pay: a low-paid couple can only avoid poverty if both are working.
- Poverty among adults. The big fall in poverty among pensioners, especially single pensioners, has been a major success of the anti-poverty strategy. However, poverty among working-age adults has not been reduced and this is a major weakness.
- Inequalities in income and pay. Three-quarters of the extra income created over the last decade has gone to richer households. While gender pay inequality has fallen somewhat, especially at the bottom, higher earnings have grown proportionately faster than the average.
- Health inequalities. Health inequalities by social class are pervasive and seem to be more impervious to change than other forms of inequality.
- Minimum educational standards. Progress in the numbers reaching 'headline' standards at age 11 and 16 diverts attention from the failure to improve outcomes for the quarter of 19-year-olds who fail to reach a minimum educational standard. Since these people face the highest risk of poverty in adult life, one of the major causes of future poverty is not being addressed.
- Exclusion by institutions. In a number of areas, from bank accounts to central heating, exclusion has fallen substantially where Government has taken a stand. Yet there remain many others, perhaps above all in the workplace, where people at the bottom are the least likely to benefit from support and services that are on offer.
- The researchers conclude that the overall picture is not so much a mixture of success and failure as one of success and neglect. Where Government has acted, change has happened. Where it has not, previous trends have continued.