Household spending in Britain

What can it teach us about poverty?

Mike Brewer, Alissa Goodman, and Andrew Leicester

Household spending in Britain
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Mike Brewer, Alissa Goodman, and Andrew Leicester

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

48 pages
Paper $25.95 ISBN: 9781861348548 Published April 2006 For sale in North and South America only
Much of the recent policy debate surrounding poverty in Britain focuses on income as a measure of living standards. In this report we consider one alternative to income for measuring poverty that has been largely overlooked in the mainstream poverty debate in the UK: namely household expenditure. Economic theory suggests that household expenditure is an important measure of financial well-being. Using 30 years of data from household surveys, this report shows the trends in poverty in Britain since the 1970s when household expenditure is used as a measure of financial well-being, rather than household income and investigates how using spending, rather than income, as a measure of well-being alters our view of who is poor. It examines the spending levels of the lowest-income households and analyses whether low-income pensioners' spending on basic and non-basic items increased as a result of the large increases in entitlements to means-tested benefits since 1999.The research will be of interest to civil servant policy-makers, academics and researchers working on poverty issues, and other groups with an interest in anti-poverty policies.
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