Lack of necessities

Over the last 30 years, it could have been expected that fewer and fewer people would be unable to afford individual items seen as necessities, as household incomes rose during this period. However, there was little change. The table in the link below gives details of all the items examined in the 1983 and 1990 Breadline Britain surveys and the 1999 PSE survey.


See also Facts and Findings 2: Going backwards, 1983 - 2012

The greatest change was in items not counted as necessities; in particular, video, dishwasher and car – all of which became relatively cheaper over this 17-year period. The only item considered to be a necessity by a majority of the population for which there was a big drop was the telephone – with only 2 per cent unable to afford one in 1999 compared with 7 per cent in 1990 and 11 per cent in 1983 when only a minority considered it a necessity.

In the case of several necessities, deprivation rose between 1990 and 1999. The number of households unable to afford a ‘damp-free home’, ‘two pairs of all-weather shoes’ and ‘new, not second-hand clothes’ all increased. In each case this rise followed a fall in the 1980s. 

Only slightly fewer households could afford a home computer in 1999 than in 1990, despite the huge fall in the price of computers in real terms over the 1990s.