Relative poverty in the UK may have risen since 1997, rather than fallen, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The usual measure is the proportion of households whose income is less than 60% of the median household income.
That suggests that the poverty rate fell from 25% to 22% of households between 1996/97 and 2002/03.
But the IFS says that if household spending is measured instead, then over the same period of time the poverty rate rose from 20% to 22%.
Using spending as a measure, the IFS also finds that the poverty rate among children increased by 11% during that time, compared to the government's assessment that child poverty, measured by income, fell by 15%.
It is not entirely surprising; after all, life has become more expensive under Labour. The Gobblin' King has increased taxes on business, and so the price of many goods (most especially energy) has risen; why anyone should find this report surprising, I don't know: it seems pretty obvious to me. Labour's new measure of inflation—the so-called "typical shopping basket"—doesn't include inconvenient things like property prices or energy costs; the result is that the true level of inflation has been far about the 1%–2% that Gordon has touted.
Meanwhile, the government is still in the process of devising a new index of material deprivation to measure the effect of its policies, a plan which was first announced in 2004.
For which read: "The government has decided that traditional ways of measuring poverty show that they are doing a fairly crappy job, so they have devised a brilliant new way of showing that they have, in fact, reduced poverty: by asking some Nulabour supporters—including the useless Polly Toynbee, no doubt—whether they think that the government has reduced poverty and then drawing some pretty graphs. If that fails, the government will devise a new measure called "making shit up"."
The IFS does not argue that the government's policies to reduce poverty have failed.
Oh, no, they would never dream of suggesting such a thing...
Rather, it says simply that measuring changes in spending is a useful additional tool to find how many people are poor.
"Spending provides a more direct measure of people's material well being, since it more directly captures the consumption of goods and services," it said.
[Emphasis mine—DK] Well, that's alright then...