One in four of the British population five in homes with less than half the average disposable income, A special report by Elaine Kempson of the Policy Studies Institute looks behind the income and wealth statistics and draws on 31 recent research studies to explore what life on a low was like in the 1990s. It concluded that:
Chronic financial difficulties place strains on low-income households that often prove damaging to mental and physical health and to family relationships.
- Parents are determined to provide the best food and clothing that they can for their children, even when it means going without themselves, women, who normally manage family budgets, adopt such strategies as frequent shopping to minimise food stocks at home and shopping without children or partners to avoid pressure to spend more.
- Finding a job is the only way that most people on benefits believe they can secure an adequate income. Yet individuals often alternate between unemployment and low-paid work in a way that offers no real escape from life on a low income.