Low income, high costs: making ends meet inside and outside London

Issue 151 (Summer 2015)

The idea of a poverty line suggests a level of income below which households suffer because they do not have enough to live on. The standard measure of 60 per cent of median income is accepted as an approximation of this level – not a precise measure of hardship, but an indicator that we can use to see if we are making progress in tackling low income, and whether it is much worse in some parts of the country than others. But one potential difficulty with such a measure is that different households have different costs. Here, Donald Hirsch asks: how problematic is this for a UK measure of poverty or low income, and in particular for geographic comparisons across the country, where costs may vary?

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