Lifestyle: Twelve million live in `poverty'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
One in five people - nearly twelve million - say that they live in "absolute poverty" according to a new survey.

The average income per week after tax said to be needed to escape absolute poverty was pounds 175 for all households. Absolute poverty is defined by the United Nations as being so poor that you are deprived of basic human needs - such as an adequate diet, housing costs, water bills, adequate sanitation, access to clean water, basic health care and education.

By their own standards almost a quarter of single pensioners in the MORI poll were living in poverty; they said they needed pounds 118 a week - far higher than the income support rates which apply to them.

More than a third of single parents say they live in absolute poverty, and, of those with two or more children, more than half say they are poor, compared with a fifth of couples with two or more children.

Peter Townsend, of the Bristol Statistical Monitoring Unit, which commissioned the survey, said that such "subjective" analyses of poverty tied in with "objective" definitions estimated by statistical analysis, usually to within pounds 10. "Single parents are being pushed to the limits," Professor Townsend said. "We must attempt to understand the problems in which they are placed."

Absolute and Overall Poverty in Britain in 1997: What the Population Themselves Say: Bristol Poverty Line Survey is issued by the Bristol Statistical Monitoring Unit, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN; price pounds 5.