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Low Incomes

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost of bus transport as a proportion of incomes of less than (a) 30 per cent., (b) 40 per cent., (c) 50 per cent. and (d) 60 per cent. of the median in each year since 1997. (185862)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 February 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what estimate has been made of the cost of bus transport as a proportion of incomes of less than (a) 30 percent, (b) 40 percent, (c) 50 percent, and (d) 60 percent of the median average in each year since 1997 (185862).

Estimates of household income are provided in the ONS analysis 'The effects of taxes and benefits on household income'. The latest analysis for 2005/06 was published on the National Statistics website on 17th May 2007 at:

The analysis is based on data from the Expenditure and Food Survey, which is a sample survey covering approximately 7,000 households in the UK. The EFS has been used for this response because it collects both income and expenditure data.

The most common and internationally recognised threshold to measure poverty is income below 60 per cent of median. The sample size for the number of households with an income below 30 per cent of median is too small to yield reliable results. In addition presenting information for households with an income of 40 or 50 per cent of median income can be misleading. One reason for this is that households stating the lowest incomes may not actually have the lowest living standards. Many households who report very low incomes appear to have high spending equivalent to households higher in the income distribution.

The table provided shows bus and coach expenditure as a percentage of household unequivalised disposable income for households that have income of 40, 50 and 60 percent below median income. Due to the issue of small sample size, an average for the period 2000/01 to 2002/03 and 2003/04 to 2005/06 has been provided. Data for 1997/1998 to 1999/00 is not available. In addition figures showing only bus fares could not be provided as expenditure on bus and coach fares are collected as one item.

Bus and coach fares as a percentage of median household disposable income1: United Kingdom


Households where income is below 40% of median

Households where income is below 50% of median

Households where income is below 60% of median

2000-01 to 2002-03




2003-04 to 2005-06




1 Unequivalised household disposable income.


Ranked by unequivalised disposable income.


Office for National Statistics