UK poverty rate still above EU average, despite fall under Labour

Nearly 11 million people were at risk of poverty in the UK in 2010 – higher than the EU average – according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS compared the UK at-risk-of-poverty rate with that in other EU countries over the period 2005–2010, using data from European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. The EU ‘at-risk-of-poverty’ rate is the proportion of people with an equivalised disposable income (after social transfers) below 60 per cent of the national median.

Key points

  • In 2010, 10.7 million people were defined as being at risk of poverty, equivalent to 17.1 per cent of the UK population – somewhat above the overall EU rate of 16.4 per cent.
  • The at-risk-of-poverty rate in the UK decreased by 1.9 percentage points between 2005 and 2010. By comparison, the EU average remained relatively stable over this period.
  • The decrease in poverty rates in the UK was most pronounced among young people and those aged 65 and over, though rates remain highest for these groups.
  • Among those aged 65 and over, the poverty rate in the UK was considerably higher than the EU average in 2010 – a difference of 5.5 percentage points.
  • Females in both the UK and the majority of other EU countries were more likely to be defined as being at risk of poverty throughout this period.

Source: Comparison of UK and EU At-risk-of-poverty Rates 2005–2010, Office for National Statistics

Links: Report | Press release | Independent report