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April 24, 2018 / C H Thompson

‘Breadline Britain’ a Consensual Definition of Poverty

  • Mack and Lansley’s (1983, 1990) study Breadline Britain attempts to create a consensual definition of poverty to overcome the criticisms of Townsend’s deprivation index.
  • Their consensual definition came from asking a representative sample of the public to judge what they saw as socially perceived necessities which are necessary to maintain a minimum standard of living in the UK.
  • Gordon et al (2000) conducted their Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) survey on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation based on the Mack and Lansley’s principles.
  • Gordon (2000) found 24% of the UK population were living in poverty using Mack and Lansley’s principle of socially perceived necessities

In 2015 Mack and Lansley published their second study of Breadline Britain and identified the following changes:

  • In 2012, 3 out 10 people in UK fell below the minimum living standard – twice as many as did in 1983
  • 1 in 10 households lived in an damp home – a 30 year high
  • The number of people who had skipped on meals had doubled since 1983 – from 13% to 28%

Mack and Lansley (2015) conclude life for people living on low incomes in Britain today is:

  • one of a constant struggle to get by
  • endless worrying about how to pay the next bill
  • young people with little hope for the future
  • parents cutting back for themselves to help their children

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