Background and aims of the
1999 PSE survey
The current survey was an update of two
Breadline Britain surveys carried out by MORI in 1983 and 1990.
It has been undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on
behalf of a consortium of experts in this field from the Universities of
Bristol, Heriot Watt, Loughborough and York.
It was supported by the
Foundation, the UK’s largest
independent social research and development charity.
The 1999 Poverty and Social Exclusion
Britain used three sets of data:
1. The 1998-9 General Household Survey (GHS) provided data on the socio-economic circumstances of the respondents,
including their incomes.
2. The June 1999 ONS Omnibus Survey
included questions designed to establish from a sample of the general population
what items and activities they consider to be necessities.
3. A follow-up survey of a sub-sample of
respondents (weighted towards those with lower incomes) to the 1998-9 GHS were
interviewed in September/October 1999 to establish how many lacked items
identified as necessities and also to collect other information on poverty and
Why a follow-up to the GHS?
Following up respondents to the 1998/9 GHS
offered a cost-effective strategy as much of the relevant data, such as detailed
information on household composition, incomes, pensions and consumer durables
was collected during the GHS interview. This meant that the current survey could
concentrate on issues which were not covered by the GHS such as views of
poverty, participation in social networks, views of the neighbourhood. One of
the aims of the survey was to explore movement in and out of poverty. Following
up GHS respondents at intervals varying from 6-18 months allows a measure of
changes over time. Respondents were asked to update some information such as
changes to the household composition and general changes in income since their
last interview. Respondents were not asked to give details about their income in
the form of the GHS questions. The sample includes people with high and low
income levels, although the sample was weighted towards the lower income groups.
A larger number of low income households were required to be able to measure the
different concepts of poverty used in this survey.
Aims of the survey
To update the Breadline Britain
To estimate the size of groups of
households in different circumstances.
To explore movement in and out of
· To look at age and gender
differences in experiences of and responses to
The division of the population into the
‘poor’ and the ‘not poor’ takes no account of the fact that some groups
move in and out of poverty. People’s
circumstances change over time and this will affect people’s status as
‘poor’ or ‘not poor’. For
example, loss of a wage earner in a household (by death or redundancy) may mean
that a household who had never been poor in the past is currently poor.
Benefits of the Survey
This survey is concerned with the experience
of people living in Britain, but the questionnaire will in time also be used in
Europe and World-wide. Every country in the UN is committed to reducing poverty
over the next 5-10 years. In Britain the Government is committed to produce an
annual poverty audit. This survey provides information that will be used to form
policies to reduce poverty in Britain.
Seebohm Rowntree’s work on poverty
first questioned long-held perceptions of poverty that it was only due to
laziness that a person was poor (i.e. the poor could work their way out of
poverty if they really wanted to). The
Welfare State was developed by Beveridge on the basis of the findings of work by
Rowntree in 1936. The basic tenets of the Welfare State are continued in the
Income Support structure today.
asked about children’s experience of poverty. The questions asked about children
were used in a survey called ‘Small Fortunes’. The Small Fortunes survey found
that children were poorer than was first thought. These findings were used to
inform changes in benefits for children (for example Income Support have been
increased in real terms).
Maintained by: Eldin Fahmy Last updated: 06/03/02