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What to keep in mind when interpreting these statistics

What should I keep in mind on relative poverty?

Small sample

These figures are based on results from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) which samples around 900 households in Wales every year. This is quite a small sample and that is why three or more years of data are rolled together to give multi year moving averages. For example, a three-year average is an average of the latest year and the previous two years. This way any unreliability in the single-year estimates is reduced, but it is not eliminated.

Many factors drive change

Movements in these figures are driven by changes in the wider economy, the labour market, the tax/ benefit system and the relative effects of these changes on different groups. Therefore, as there are a large number of complex and interacting factors it is difficult to assess exactly which changes have driven movements in these figures or to predict how things may change in future.

Different costs of living

Relative income poverty compares the household income in different areas of the UK against the UK average. However, as the cost of living in Wales tends to be below what it is in other areas of the UK, the figures for Wales may suggest the standard of living in Wales is lower than it actually is.  

No statistical significance

None of the changes over time in the headline relative income poverty figures are statistically significant. We advise caution when looking at year on year changes, with longer term trends often giving a clearer picture.

Also, when comparing relative income poverty estimates of different groups of people, bear in mind the likely wide confidence intervals due to small sample sizes. We are working on methodology to allow us to estimate these confidence intervals in future.

Rounded data

All figures shown are rounded to the nearest 10 thousand individuals or whole percentage point.

What should I keep in mind on material deprivation?

Short time series

We advise that child material deprivation data be treated with caution, as this is only the fourth year these figures have been available at a regional level following a break in the series. This means that this data is only directly comparable back to the period 2010-11 to 2012-13.

Volatile data

For regional breakdowns the material deprivation figures are 3 year averages, but, even so, the data can still be volatile due to small sample sizes. This is particularly true for sub-groups, such as the group experiencing material deprivation.

Different measures

The measure of material deprivation within this release is calculated by the Department for Work and Pensions, who use the Family Resources Survey (FRS). It refers to the self-reported inability of individuals or households to afford particular goods and activities that are typical in society at a given point in time, irrespective of whether they would choose to have these items, even if they could afford them.

Respondents are asked whether they have 21 goods and services, including child, adult and household items. If they do not have a good or service, they are asked whether this is because they do not want them or because they cannot afford them.

Information on children in material deprivation is then combined with information about the income of their household (before housing costs) and figures on children in material deprivation and low income households are reported.

Figures for pensioners in material deprivation are also reported but these are not combined with information on the income of the household.
The other source of information on material deprivation in Wales is the National Survey for Wales (NSW). 

Between April 2016 and March 2017 the National Survey included a series of questions on material deprivation. Non-pensioner adults, pensioners and parents were asked whether they had 9, 15, and 10 different goods or services respectively. 

The National Survey measure uses many of the same questions that are used in the FRS but the information on material deprivation is not combined with income for any of the age groups.

The National Survey reported figures for adults, parents and pensioners in material deprivation in Wales. 

The only comparable figures from the two sources are for pensioners in material deprivation in Wales. Possible reasons for why the National Survey figures for pensioners differ from the FRS figures are:

  • The pensioners in the National Survey are only asked about 15 goods or services, while the pensioners in the FRS are asked about 21 goods and services 
  • The figures refer to slightly different time periods 
  • Differences in the sample of pensioners selected for the two surveys
  • The two surveys have different focus in terms of their content. The National Survey asks about a range of different topics such as people’s views on various services, their health and wellbeing and their activities, while the FRS is a survey which particularly focuses on income and what people can afford. 

More details on the DWP measure of material deprivation are available in the HBAI Quality and Methodology Information Report (PDF 1.02MB).

For more information on how the Material Deprivation is calculated using the National Survey, please contact the team surveys@gov.wales.

What should I keep in mind on persistent poverty?

Experimental statistics

This is the first year that DWP have published an Income Dynamics report looking at persistent poverty across the UK. These statistics are experimental and are not designated as National Statistics.

Different source

The source for these statistics is the Understanding Society Survey; this is different to the HBAI report which uses the Family Resources Survey.

Further detail can be found in the Methodology pages in this section.

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