Household spending in Britain

What can it teach us about poverty?

Mike Brewer, Alissa Goodman, and Andrew Leicester

Household spending in Britain

Mike Brewer, Alissa Goodman, and Andrew Leicester

Distributed for Bristol University Press

48 pages
Paper $26.95 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.


Income and expenditure poverty compared

Income and expenditure behaviour of the same households

The effect of increased benefit entitlements on pensioner spending

Conclusions and policy implications

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