Poverty in Wales

24 March 2017
What was claimed

23% of people in Wales live in poverty

Our verdict

This is correct using the relative measure of poverty after housing costs, and absolute poverty after housing costs is similar, estimated at 22%.

 “We have got 23% of people living in poverty here in Wales.”

Leanne Wood AM, 23 March 2017

This is correct using the relative measure of poverty, and absolute poverty is similar, estimated at 22%.

23% of people in Wales lived in a household where the income is below 60% of the UK median between 2013/14 and 2015/16. That’s including housing costs, and is roughly 700,000 people.

These levels have been roughly the same for the past decade, and slightly higher than other UK countries. The most recent figure for England is 22%, 20% for Northern Ireland and 19% for Scotland.

An alternative measure is absolute poverty. This is where, instead of comparing people relative to the rest of the population, people are measured against a fixed standard of living. The government chooses to use the relative poverty line in 2010/11, adjusted for inflation.

22% of people in Wales lived in absolute poverty between 2013/14 and 2015/16. Again, that’s including housing costs and about 700,000 people. It’s still higher than 21% in England, 20% in Northern Ireland and 18% in Scotland.

For both relative and absolute measures, the figures before housing costs are taken into account are a little bit lower.

There are issues with using both absolute and relative measures of poverty to understand inequality in the UK. If you are interested, take a look at our piece here.


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