Household income

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • on average in the 3 years from 2015/16 to 2017/18, just under a third of households in the UK had a weekly income below £400, and just over a third had a weekly income over £800 (before tax)
  • Black households were most likely out of all ethnic groups to have a weekly income of less than £400, and Indian households most likely to have a weekly income of £1000 or more
Things you need to know

Because the data varies from year to year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes 3 years’ worth of data and works out the average for that period. For example, the published data for the period from 2015/16 to 2017/18 is an average of the data for the three years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. DWP works out a new 3-year average every year.

While this increases the reliability of the data, it means that some statistical tests have not been carried out. The commentary on this page is for differences between ethnic groups that are reasonably reliable.

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds. The ethnicity assigned to the household is that of the head of the household (usually the person with the highest income). The data does not account for people of different ethnic backgrounds who live in the same house.

This data covers private households only. Individuals living in shared accommodation, such as care homes, or who do not have a fixed address are not included in these results.

Weekly incomes will go further in houses where there are no financial dependents, such as children. As the data does not measure who lives in a household, it is not a true reflection of living standards.

These statistics are estimates based on the sample of people who took part in the survey, and may not reflect the whole population. You should therefore use caution when interpreting them.

What the data measures

This data measures the weekly income of households in the UK before tax (their 'gross' weekly income).

Weekly income has been calculated as an average over three financial years from 2015/16 to 2017/18. It is the total income brought into the household on a weekly basis by everyone who lives there.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The Family Resources Survey uses the following ethnic categories:

Asian/Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Other Asian

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups

White:

  • White British
  • White Other (White ethnic minorities)

Other ethnic group

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of households in weekly income bands from under £100 to over £1000, by ethnicity
Ethnicity Up to £99 £100 to £199 £200 to £299 £300 to £399 £400 to £499 £500 to £599 £600 to £699 £700 to £799 £800 to £899 £900 to £999 £1000 or above
All 2 5 11 12 11 9 8 7 6 5 27
Bangladeshi 1 2 6 11 13 13 15 12 5 2 20
Chinese 5 5 9 10 8 10 8 6 4 7 29
Indian 2 3 7 6 7 6 7 7 6 7 42
Pakistani 2 7 7 8 13 12 10 8 6 5 20
Asian other 2 5 8 8 11 11 7 11 4 6 28
Black 4 6 10 15 11 11 9 7 5 4 19
Mixed 3 5 11 13 11 9 7 9 6 4 24
White British 2 5 11 12 11 9 7 7 6 5 26
White other 2 3 7 9 10 10 9 7 6 5 31
Other 3 4 8 13 10 12 7 7 5 4 27

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • the households most likely to have a weekly income of less than £400 were from the Mixed and Black ethnic groups, at 32% and 35% respectively
  • 42% of Indian households had a weekly income of £1,000 or more, making them twice as likely to be in this income band as Pakistani (20%) and Black (19%) households

3. Methodology

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a continuous household survey which collects information on a representative sample of private households in the UK. Detailed information is recorded on respondents’ income from all sources:

  • housing tenure
  • caring needs and responsibilities
  • disability
  • expenditure on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • family circumstances
  • child maintenance

The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes.

In the latest three-year period, 2015/16 to 2017/18, the FRS sample consisted of almost 60,000 households in the UK.

It has a financial-year survey period with surveys conducted throughout the year and is cross-sectional (a ‘snapshot’ of households over the year). The same individuals are not then approached again (i.e. there is no further ‘wave’ of the survey). Since responses reflect only a sample of the total population, they are weighted on the basis of subnational population totals by age and sex to give estimates for the entire UK household population.

Estimates are subject to sampling error and non-sampling bias. The FRS only covers private households. Therefore, individuals who live in communal accommodation (for example, care homes) or have no fixed address (for example, who are homeless) are not included in these results.

Households where every resident over the age of 16 responds to the questions are classed as fully co-operating. Only households with full co-operation are included in the analysis. This may introduce some error, as the characteristics of individuals living in households which do not respond fully may be different to those who do fully co-operate. Therefore, the sample will be biased towards (that is, more representative of) those who do respond fully. Overall, 52% of households fully co-operated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,136 households in 2017/18.

Results derived from a low number of responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed changes might not reflect real differences. As such, caution is needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for subgroups (for example, a specific ethnic group, age group and gender). Using a 3-year average for income minimises the risks due to uncertainty to an extent. As the data is presented as a 3-year average, no statistical tests have been performed to determine whether the estimates taken from the survey are statistically significantly different from one another.

In other words, as the results are based on a sample of the population, without further testing it isn’t possible to determine whether any differences observed would likely be seen across the entire population. This is important to consider and means that conclusions around differences between groups cannot be drawn. However, the data is still useful because it indicates where differences between ethnic groups might exist.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been suppressed.

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole percentage point. Due to this rounding, some figures may not add up to 100.

Related publications

Family Resources Survey.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The main purpose of the Family Resources Survey (FRS) is to give the Department for Work and Pensions data to develop, monitor and evaluate social welfare policy.

The survey is also used by other government departments, including for tax and benefit policy modelling by HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs. The FRS is also used extensively by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.

5. Download the data

Household income - Spreadsheet (csv) 203 KB

Measure, Time, Time_Type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_Type, Value, Value_type, Denominator

Income distribution

Average hourly pay

Sources of household income