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Tuesday, 17th July 2012

Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2012

Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

How have household incomes evolved since the onset of the financial crisis? What is the gap between rich and poor? Who was hit hardest by the recession? How many people are there in poverty? Which groups are most likely to face poverty? These questions are fundamental to understanding the living standards available to individuals across the UK.

Each year, the government produces statistics about the distribution of income in the UK ('Households Below Average Incomes' or HBAI). The data underlying the HBAI statistics have the potential to provide a wide range of information about poverty, inequality and average incomes. Ten years ago, IFS researchers began publishing an annual series of reports describing these statistics and the driving forces behind trends over time. Back in 2002, this showed a picture of robust year-on-year growth in living standards and falling levels of poverty, although inequality was continuing to creep up. Ten years on, the latest report for 2012 covers data up to and including 2010-11. The picture is strikingly different. In the aftermath of the recession, average incomes have fallen by near-record amounts. Inequality has fallen back to levels last seen in the mid-1990s. Relative poverty continues to fall, but only because the poverty line is also falling: the poor have undoubtedly been getting worse off in absolute terms, on average.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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