Skip to main content

Definitions of Poverty

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what definition of poverty for older people is used by (a) his Department and (b) the EU. (115915)

The Department does not have a single official measure of poverty for older people. Specific information regarding low income is available in “Households Below Average Income 1994-95 -2004-05”. The threshold of below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

Indicators of material well being, including income and wealth, are reported on as part of the Government’s “Opportunity for All” strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion, and as part of “Opportunity Age”, its strategy for an ageing society.

The agreed EU definition of the risk of poverty among the elderly is the proportion of people aged 65 and over with an equivalised income of less than 60 per cent. of the overall median equivalised income, calculated separately for each member state. This differs from the Department’s measure of low income which takes into account all pensioners, that is, includes women aged 60-64, and looks at income both before and after housing costs.

The EU also reports on a number of other indicators of income and living conditions, reflecting the fact that having an income below the 60 per cent. of median income threshold is not the only indicator of poverty.