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23% of people in the UK were at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2011 - what does this mean?

Published 17 January 2013 by

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 23% of the UK population was considered to be 'at risk' of social exclusion or poverty in 2011. You might be wondering what this means.

Anybody who fits at least one of the three definitions below may be at risk of social exclusion and poverty.

  • Your household income is below the poverty threshold
  • The 'poverty threshold' for household income is 60% of the national median 'equivalised' disposable income.

    Your equivalised disposable income includes your earnings - as well as any benefits you receive such as direct income support and child benefits - after tax, National Insurance and other such deductions.

    In 2011, the average equivalised household income was £14,873 per year. This means that if, in 2011, your household took home less than around £8,924 in the whole year, you were officially below the poverty threshold.

    Figures show that 16% of the UK population were 'at risk of poverty' in 2011 - though this represents around half a million fewer people than in 2010.

  • You're severely materially deprived
  • 5.1% of the population were classed as severely materially deprived in 2011.

    You'd be classed as 'severely materially deprived' if your living conditions are significantly affected by a lack of resources - if you can't afford at least four of the following:

    • To make your mortgage, rent, utility bills or loan repayments
    • To keep your house warm
    • To meet any unexpected expenses
    • To eat protein or meat regularly
    • To go on holiday for one week once a year
    • A TV
    • A washing machine
    • A car
    • A telephone

  • You live in a household with low work intensity
  • 11.5% of people under the age of 60 were living in households with 'low work intensity' in 2011.

    A household with low work intensity is one where the working-age adults work less than 20% of their total potential during a year.