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Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will introduce a measure of severe poverty; and if he will make a statement. (148734)

Poverty is a complex and multidimensional issue and there are many measures of poverty. Experts agree that it is very difficult to measure “severe” poverty. The measurement of low income we have adopted looks at a household living on less than 60 per cent. of median income, which is an internationally recognised method and the most commonly used globally. The Department also publishes the “Households Below Average Income” report, which presents information on potential living standards as determined by disposable income, measured at 50, 60 and 70 per cent. of median income.

However poverty is about more than just low income which is why we publish “Opportunity for All” which sets out a number of indicators to demonstrate our progress in tackling poverty and social exclusion.