Household income

The main facts and figures show that:

  • over the period studied, about a third of households in the UK had a weekly income of less than £400 (before tax and National Insurance was deducted) – and another third had a weekly income of over £800

  • Black households and those from the Other ethnic group were most likely to have a weekly income of less than £400 – Indian and Other Asian households were most likely to have a weekly income of £1000 or more

  • new data has been published for the 3-year period 2014/15 to 2016/17 – this data isn’t currently reflected in the charts, tables and commentary on this page, but you can get a CSV file with the latest figures if you download the data

Things you need to know

To increase the reliability of the data, which is taken from the Family Resources Survey (FRS), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes 3 years’ worth of data and works out the average for that period. It does that every year, so each year there’s a new 3-year average. The published data for the period from 2013/14 to 2015/16 is an average of the data for 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.

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.

Each household is categorised according to the ethnicity of the head of the household. Because households may also contain members of other, different ethnic groups, this data does not reflect the distribution of household income by individual ethnicity.

In a household containing one or more working adults, total weekly income will go further than in a household containing adults, children and/or other people who aren’t able to work. This data has not allowed for the impact of household composition on total weekly income, and is therefore 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 FRS 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 a household receives from all sources before tax and National Insurance is deducted.

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: 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16. It includes income from all people in the household (including children).

The 'household reference person' is the person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

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 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:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Asian Other

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups

White

  • White British
  • White Other

Other

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Weekly household income by ethnicity

Percentage of households in gross weekly income bands, by ethnicity

Ethnicity Less than £100 £100 to £200 £200 to £300 £300 to £400 £400 to £500 £500 to £600 £600 to £700 £700 to £800 £800 to £900 £900 to £1,000 £1,000 or more
All 2 6 12 12 11 9 8 6 6 5 24
Bangladeshi withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 5 11 16 11 10 10 9 4 3 21
Chinese 5 7 8 7 13 4 6 9 5 6 30
Indian 2 5 6 9 9 9 9 7 5 6 35
Pakistani 3 7 8 10 12 13 10 11 5 4 17
Asian other 2 5 7 7 10 9 11 7 5 5 33
Black 4 7 12 12 12 10 10 7 5 5 16
Mixed 2 6 14 8 10 12 8 7 6 4 23
White British 2 6 12 12 11 9 8 6 6 5 24
White other 2 5 10 9 10 10 8 7 6 5 29
Other 4 8 10 15 10 7 8 5 5 5 22

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • Black households, and those from the Other ethnic group, were most likely to have a weekly income of less than £400 (before tax and National Insurance was deducted), at 35% and 37% respectively

  • 35% of Indian households and 33% of Other Asian households had a weekly income of £1000 or more – these groups were twice as likely to be in this income band as Pakistani households (17%) and Black households (16%)

Methodology

Methodology

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
  • disability
  • spending on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • 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:

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.

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 with previous years' data and background information.

Quality and methodology information

Data sources

Source

Family Resources Survey

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The primary 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

Household income - Spreadsheet (csv) 149 KB

This file contains data for the period 2009/10 to 2015/16. This is the data used in the charts, tables and commentary shown on this page. This file contains: ethnicity, year, income, value, denominator

Household income v2 - Spreadsheet (csv) 22 KB

This file contains data for the 3-year period 2014/15 to 2016/17. This is the latest data available, but does not reflect the figures shown in the charts, tables and commentary on this page. This file contains: ethnicity, year, income, value