The Government says latest information on households on below average incomes backs up the urgent need for its New Deal policies.The Households Below Average Incomes (HBAI) report is the main source of official statistics on those with low incomes.
The latest issue shows that while average real incomes have increased by a little over 40% since 1979, those at the top of the scale have experienced much greater rises than those at the bottom.
They also show that that the number of people on low incomes who are of working age has increased substantially between 1979 and 1996/97.
Social Security Minister Angela Eagle, said: “The figures show that the ever increasing social security bill has had little impact on reducing inequality. This confirms our approach that welfare reform is required.
“These figures are also further evidence in support of our view that the best way to tackle poverty is to help people into work.”
The figures also show that children are an increasing proportion of those with low incomes. The proportion living without a working parent increased from 9 per cent in 1979 to 23 per cent.