Foundation welcomes new Household Income Report

The publication today of the first Household Income Report, taken from the States of Guernsey’s e-census data, provides a stark insight into levels of poverty in Guernsey. It shows that pensioners and single-parent households are especially hard hit, and that there are significant disparities in income between richer and poorer islanders.

The report focuses on gross (pre-tax) income, and presents both raw figures and weighted incomes based on household size.The Guernsey Community Foundation has welcomed it as a further step towards understanding the nature of poverty in the islands, although it says that additional analysis based on net household income would help to refine this even further in future reports.

Wayne Bulpitt, Chair of the Guernsey Community Foundation, said:

“Just a few days ago, the Foundation published a piece in the local press, asking if 2016 would be the year that Guernsey finally squared up to the challenges of poverty in our community. The publication of this report is another step towards making that happen.

“The report starts to show how different households are affected differently by low incomes. A very clear picture comes through of so-called ‘asset-rich, cash-poor’ pensioners in the lowest income quintiles, owning their own home, but having very little in the way of other income. Single parents, too, are mostly in the lowest-income brackets – meaning their children live much closer to poverty than the children of two-parent households. Having just been involved in developing the States’ Children and Young People’s Plan, I think this is something we need to be very aware of, as we try to ensure that every child has  the best possible start in life.”

The report also raised the question of in-work poverty – something the Guernsey Community Foundation has become increasingly concerned about, Mr Bulpitt added.

“Looking at the income breakdown for the poorest households, half comes from the State pension and another 12% from benefits, but more than 30% comes from private income, which includes earnings. To us, this suggests that there are a number of households in these low income brackets where at least one person is in work, but they aren’t able to raise their income to a decent level. We recently made a submission to the Minimum Wage consultation, highlighting the risk of in-work poverty and calling on the new Committee for Employment and Social Security to look into this as a priority in the new States.”

The Foundation has been encouraging the States to develop a comprehensive response to poverty since it was first set up, and recently sponsored a policy internship that allowed the States to develop a suite of measures for monitoring poverty and deprivation in the islands. The Foundation is now looking to establish a strong community voice for action on poverty, providing a forum for many of the charities and community groups already working on related issues. Anyone who is interested in participating should contact Dave Chilton, Chief Executive, on 748056 or email davec@foundation.gg.

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