Poverty definitions and thresholds

Date 1 September 2017
Date updated 20 April 2020

How much weekly income is needed to not be in poverty?

Household types Minimum Income Standard - Inner London (AHC), 2018 Minimum Income Standard - Outer London (AHC), 2018 UK poverty line - After Housing Costs, 2018 Destitution, 2018
Single, working-age £269 £245 £152 £70
Couple, working-age £368 £398 £263 £100
Single, pensioner £206 £183 £152 NA
Couple, pensioner £382 £317 £263 NA
Lone parent, one child (aged one) £291 £308 £205 £90
Couple with two children (aged three and seven) £503 £520 £373 £140

Note: MIS figures are updated to reflect the report produced by Loughborough University for TfL in 2019. For family types where updates are not available we have carried forward the 2016/17 data and adjusted for inflation by CPIH. Destitution is defined by the JRF as people who went without 2 or more essentials in the past month because they couldn't afford them, or their income is extremely low

Data source: Poverty thresholds are from Households Below Average Income 2017/18, Department for Work and Pensions. Minimum Income Standard thresholds are based on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for London, Trust for London 2018. Destitution in the UK 2018, JRF

There are a number of different definitions of poverty including the UK poverty line, the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), and the UK destitution line. This table shows how poverty thresholds are calculated across those definitions.

Households are considered to be below the UK poverty line if their income is 60% below the median household income after housing costs for that year.

The Minimum Income Standard identifies what incomes different households require to reach a minimum socially acceptable living standard. 

Households in destitution are defined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as those who have to go without two or more essentials in the past month because they couldn't afford them, or if their income is extremely low (less than £70 a week for a single adult). Essentials are defined as having a home, food, heating, lighting clothing, shoes and basic toiletries.