Measuring national well-being: personal finance, 2012

Document type
Seddon, Carla
Office for National Statistics
Date of publication
20 September 2012
Social Policy, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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This brief report is published as part of the Office for National Statistics measuring national well-being programme. The programme aims to produce accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of the nation - how the UK as a whole is doing. Personal finance can have a significant impact on one's sense of well-being and the financial situation of the population is an important aspect of national well-being. This article examines different aspects of household income, expenditure and wealth, including financial poverty as well looking at how people viewed their own financial situation.

The four headline measures proposed to measure national well-being are: percentage of individuals living in households where income was less than 60 per cent of median income after housing costs; median wealth per household including pension wealth; percentage who were somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with the income of their household; percentage who report it quite or very difficult to get by financially.

Among the key points: In 2010/11 median income after housing costs in the UK was £359 per week, a rise since the £277 per week in 1994/95 but a fall from £373 per week in 2009/10. In the UK in 2010/11, 16 per cent of individuals lived in households with an income less than 60 per cent the median household income before housing costs. In the UK in 2009, 64 per cent of households with above average poverty rates included large families, 64 per cent were entirely workless households and 47 per cent were headed by a lone parent. In 2010, 76 per cent of weekly household income was from social security benefits for UK households in the lowest income quintile, while for those in the highest quintile 76 per cent of weekly income came from wages and salaries. In 2008/09, 8.5 per cent of people in the UK reported being completely satisfied with the income of their household compared to 11.1 per cent in 2002/03. In 2011/12, 47.4 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain reported relatively low satisfaction with their financial situation compared to 19.6 who had high satisfaction.

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