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Welsh economy: in numbers

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Poverty & Wealth
The economic position of people in Wales includes their wealth and the distribution of income, particularly the impact on poverty.
  • Poverty rate

    Poverty rate in Wales and comparator regions and countries, after housing costs, rolling 3 year averages
    UK rank
    12 UK regions countries
    Wales rate
    Change of rate on year
    Percentage points

    What is it?

    The poverty rate shows the proportion of the population living on low incomes. The poverty rate is a relative measure and is the percentage of all individuals living in households below 60 per cent of UK median income, after housing costs.

    Current position

    Currently, 23 per cent of all individuals in Wales live in poverty, defined as having an income below 60 per cent of UK median income. This rate is lower than in London and equal to the West Midlands, but is higher than the remaining 9 UK regions and countries.

    Long term trend

    Poverty rates in Wales have generally been greater than the UK average since 1998/99, but have followed the same, slight downward trend as the UK rate.

    With the exception of London, all other regions have a poverty rate within 5 percentage points of each other, and over the period between 1998-99 and 2014-15 Wales saw the poverty rate reduce by 2 percentage points. This was the equal seventh largest reduction of the UK regions and countries, with the largest reduction being in the North East (7 percentage points), followed by Scotland (6 percentage points). All other regions and countries saw percentage point reductions between 1 and 4.


    The chart shows a time series for Wales, for Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK; and for the two highest, and the lowest, English regions.

    Due to the small sample size of the Family Resources Survey, a 3 year rolling average is used to reduce volatility in the statistics.

    There are some limitations to using a median income approach to measuring poverty. While the definition of 60 per cent of median income is an EU standard, it is an arbitrary cut off point; it only considers income; and the measure is taken after social benefits have been distributed.

    Measuring the poverty rate in this way also includes those individuals who are in ‘transitionary poverty’, i.e. where individuals have low incomes at a point in time, which is not typical of their normal level of income (for example, those who are in between jobs). The rate of persistent poverty, i.e. where individuals consistently have low incomes is lower than the rate presented here.

    These figures were revised on 5 July 2016 due to a change in the method used to adjust household income figures for inflation. The new method uses the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in place of the Retail Price Index (RPI).

  • Average total household wealth

    Average (median) total household wealth in Wales and comparator regions and countries, 2 year averages.
    GB rank
    11 GB regions & countries
    GB = 100
    Change of Wales:GB on year
    Percentage points

    What is it?

    Average (median) total household wealth measures property wealth, physical wealth (e.g. contents of households), financial wealth and private pension wealth.

    Current position

    Average total household wealth is currently £214,200 in Wales. This is 95.2 per cent of the GB average, and is greater than 6 other regions or countries, but lower than the South East, South West, East and London.

    Long term trend

    Average total household wealth is quite disparate across GB regions and countries, with the average household in the South East having more than twice the total wealth of an average household in the North East.

    Since 2006/08 wealth increased in Wales by 7.6 per cent which was the seventh largest increase of the 11 GB regions and countries. The largest increase was in London (47.0 per cent) and the largest fall was in the North East (5.5 per cent).

    Average total wealth in households in Wales has been close to the GB average throughout the time series, starting off slightly above the GB rate in 2006-08, before dropping slightly below the GB average in subsequent periods.

    Trends across GB countries and regions have shown some variation. Average wealth as a proportion of the GB average has increased strongly in London over the time series, whereas there have been declines in the North East, East Midlands and West Midlands. All other regions and countries (including Wales) have shown more modest changes over time.


    The chart shows a time series for Wales, for Scotland and GB; and for the two highest, and the lowest, English regions.

    With only 4 data points in the time series, inferences about longer term trends should be treated with caution.

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