The main facts and figures show that:
- over the period studied, just under one-third of households in the UK had a weekly income of below £400 (before tax and National Insurance was deducted), and just over one-third had a weekly income of £800 or more
- Black households were most likely out of all ethnic groups to have a weekly income of less than £400, and Indian households were most likely to have a weekly income of £1000 or more
Things you need to know
Because of variations in the data 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 2014/15 to 2016/17 is an average of the data for the three years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17. A new 3-year average is worked out every year.
While this type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data, it means that tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. However, commentary has been supplied for those findings where differences between ethnic groups are reasonably reliable.
The ethnicity assigned to the household is that of the household reference person (usually the person with the highest income). Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds. In these circumstances, we have used the ethnic background of the household reference person to define the ethnic background of the household.
The data has not been recalculated to take into account any differences in household size and composition (known as ‘equivalisation’). For this reason, the data isn’t comparable with data on income that has been equivalised, and 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.
The Family Resources Survey only covers private households. This means that individuals who live in communal accommodation (for example, care homes) or have no fixed address (for example, the homeless) are not included in these results.
What the data measures
The data measures the gross weekly income of households in the UK. Gross income is the amount of income from all sources before taxes and other deductions.
A household can be one person living alone or a group of people living at the same address sharing a kitchen and either a living room, sitting room or dining area.
This data uses an average based on households' weekly income over 3 financial years: 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17. It includes income from all people in the household (including children).
The ethnic categories used in this data
This data uses the ethnic categories included in the Family Resources Survey. It also divides the White ethnic group into White British and 'White Other' (for White ethnic minorities).
The categories are as follows:
Asian/ Asian British:
- Asian Other
Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups
- White British
- White Other
Weekly household income by ethnicity
Percentage of households in gross weekly income bands, 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||£1,000 or above|
This data shows that:
- overall, in the period from 2014/15 to 2016/17, 31% of households in the UK had a weekly income of less than £400; 46% had a weekly income between £400 and £999, and 25% had a weekly income of £1,000 or more
- 33% of Mixed households and 35% of Black households had a weekly income of less than £400, the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups in this income group
- 38% of Indian households and 32% of Chinese households had a weekly income of £1,000 or more; these groups were around twice as likely to be in this income band as Pakistani households (18%) and Black households (17%)
The 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
- spending on housing
- pension scheme participation
- family circumstances
- child maintenance
The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes face to face with an interviewer.
In the latest 3-year period, 2013/14 to 2015/16, 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). Individuals are not followed up for later surveys.
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, 56% of households fully co-operated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,326 households in 2015/16.
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.
Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.
For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split.
Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.
Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been suppressed.
Percentages are given to the nearest whole percentage point. Due to this rounding, some figures may not add up to 100.
Family Resources Survey with previous years' data and background information.Quality and methodology information
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Work and Pensions
Purpose of data source
The main purpose of the Family Resources Survey (FRS) is to provide the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with data to inform the development, monitoring and evaluation of social welfare policy.
The survey is used by many other government departments, as well as 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.
Download the data
This file contains data from the financial year 2009/10 to the financial year 2016/17. This data uses an average based on households' weekly income over 3 financial years. This is the latest data available. This file contains: ethnicity, year, income, value