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Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2014

Table 1 draws together the key trends shown in this report. It shows how a range of indicators compare with the situation ten years ago and five years ago – are things better, worse or the same? These judgements are somewhat subjective, but where the trend is unclear we err on the side of caution, reporting it as ‘unchanged’. The chapters in this report split the indicators into five themes.

In terms of money, average incomes are lower now than they were five and ten years ago. As the poverty threshold is indexed to average income this means that the poverty threshold is also lower than it was. So the improvements in the poverty rate among pensioners and children, particularly in the last five years, are not necessarily achievements to be celebrated. In the light of that, the trend for the poverty rate among working-age adults is very worrying.

The number of private renters in poverty has been increasing consistently over the decade, while the number of owner-occupiers and social renters has generally fallen. This is linked to the changing tenure distribution overall. But there are clearly growing issues of affordability given the increase in the number of housing benefit claimants. Meanwhile the number of landlord repossessions has increased and although still lower than five years ago the number of homelessness acceptances is currently on an upward trajectory. But some improvements can be seen in living conditions (mostly in the social and owner-occupied homes). Likewise the number of mortgage repossessions has fallen back from its peak during the financial crisis but not to the levels a decade ago.

In terms of work we can see a similar trend; measures of unemployment appear better than they were during the recession five years ago, but are still worse than the pre‑recession levels. A recovery is taking place; the number of long-term unemployed, though still higher than five years ago, is falling. But the type of work being done continues to show worrying signs with growth in temporary workers and stagnant wages. These trends in unemployment are mirrored in statistics on workless benefit claimants. But there has been considerable change to benefit entitlement and administration preventing us from making these longer-time comparisons with other aspects of the benefit system.

Lastly the outlook for services is much more positive, though again the possibility to show trends over time is limited. Internet access, school attainment and premature mortality have improved, but, as with the NHS, these improvements are not necessarily reflected in satisfaction levels.