Lack of necessities by don't want and can't afford: UK 2012

The following tables examine, for adults and children, items and activities seen as a necessity by the majority of the population by, in the first column, the percentages of the adult population who see it as a necessity and then, in the next columns, by the percentages who have it, who don't have it but don't want it, and who do not have it because they cannot afford it. For items, the last column shows the percentage who could not allocate the item between the choices of have, don't want and can't afford. For activities, the last column shows the percentage who want to do the activity but cannot do it for some reason other than lack of money.

The items for adults are further broken down into those that were answered in the survey by just one member of the household for the whole household (and refer to percentage of household) and those that were answered by every adult in the household (which refer to percentages of adults). The tables for children refer to the percentage of the group of children to which that item or activity applies (see Children going without for the relevant age group).

For all the tables, the initial order is by the percentage who cannot afford the item/activity, going from highest to lowest. You can re-order the table by any of the other columns by clicking on the up/down arrow at the top of the column and reset it to its initial order by clicking the reset button.

Adult Household items (% of households)


Household items (% of households) % saying necessity Has Doesn't have, does not want Doesn't have, can't afford Not allocated
Home Insurance 69% 79% 8% 12% 0%
Damp-free home 94% 80% 7% 10% 2%
Table and chairs at which all the family can eat 64% 87% 8% 5% 1%
Telephone 77% 96% 2% 2% 0%
Washing machine 82% 97% 2% 1% 0%
Curtains or window blinds 71% 97% 1% 1% 0%
Television 51% 98% 2% 0% 0%

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Adult Individual items (% of adults)


Adult individual items (% of adults) % saying necessity Has Doesn't have, does not want Doesn't have, can't afford Not allocated
Regular savings (of at least £20) for rainy days 52% 58% 10% 31% 1%
Regular payments into an ocupational or private pension 51% 32% 38% 27% 3%
Enough money to replace or repair broken electrical goods such as a fridge or washing machine 86% 67% 6% 26% 1%
Enough money to keep home in a decent state of decoration 69% 74% 5% 19% 2%
All recommended dental work/treatment 82% 73% 8% 17% 1%
Appropriate clothes for job interviews 69% 71% 18% 8% 3%
Two pairs of all weather shoes 54% 88% 4% 7% 0%
Heating to keep home adequately warm 96% 90% 2% 7% 1%
Fresh fruit and vegetables everyday 83% 87% 6% 6% 1%
A warm waterproof coat 79% 93% 3% 4% 0%
Meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day 76% 92% 3% 4% 0%
Two meals a day 91% 95% 2% 2% 0%

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Adult Activities ( % of adults)


Adult Activities ( % of adults) % saying necessity Do Do not do, does not want to do Do not do, cannot afford to do Do not do for another reason
Taking part in sport/exercise activities or classes 56% 44% 34% 11% 12%
A hobby or leisure activity. 70% 71% 14% 8% 7%
Celebrations on special occcasions, such as Christmas 80% 93% 3% 3% 1%
Attending weddings, funerals and other such occasions 78% 88% 5% 3% 4%
Visiting friends or family in hospital or other institutions 90% 64% 13% 3% 20%

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Children Items (% of children)


Child items (% of children) % saying necessity Has Doesn't have, does not want Doesn't have, can't afford Not allocated
A warm winter coat 97% 97% 1% 1% 0%
Books at home suitable for their ages 91% 97% 1% 2% 0%
Three meals a day 93% 97% 2% 1% 0%
Indoor games suitable for their ages 80% 95% 2% 1% 1%
Fresh fruit or vegetables at least once a day 96% 95% 2% 3% 0%
Some new, not second hand, clothes 65% 95% 1% 4% 0%
Meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent at least once a day 90% 94% 1% 3% 1%
New, properly fitting shoes 93% 94% 2% 4% 1%
At least four pairs of trousers 56% 93% 1% 5% 1%
A garden or outdoor space nearby 92% 92% 2% 5% 1%
A suitable place at home to study or do homework 89% 92% 2% 5% 1%
Computer and internet for homework 66% 90% 2% 6% 2%
Enough bedrooms for every child of 10 or over of a different sex 74% 84% 4% 11% 1%
Outdoor leisure equipment 58% 81% 11% 6% 2%
Construction toys 53% 70% 23% 5% 3%
Pocket money 54% 69% 13% 16% 2%
Money to save 54% 60% 6% 33% 1%

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Children Activities (% of children)


Child activities (% of children) % saying necessity Do Do not do, does not want to do Do not do, cannot afford to do Do not do for another reason
Celebrations on special occasions 91% 97% 1% 2% 0%
A hobby or leisure activity 88% 86% 5% 6% 3%
Going on a school trip at least once a term 55% 79% 5% 7% 9%
Toddler group, nursery or play group once a week 87% 73% 13% 4% 10%
Children's clubs or activities 74% 71% 11% 9% 8%
Day trips with family once a month 60% 66% 8% 21% 5%
A holiday away from home at least one week a year 52% 64% 6% 26% 2%

download csv file

Source for tables: the percentages seeing an item or activity as a necessity are from the PSE 'Necessities of Life' survey, all other columns are from the PSE UK 2012 'Living standards' survey.

Notes: Percentages are round to the nearest whole number. For the tables for child items, percentages of 0% or 1% are based on small samples sizes; for the adult tables, percentages of 0% (that is under 0.5%) are based on small sample sizes.

Overview

When examing those who have and do not have an item or activity seen as a necessity, the PSE surveys, and their predecessor Breadline Britain surveys, distinguish between those who have the item, those who don't have it but don't want it and those who don't have it because they cannot afford it. Those who choose not to have a necessity are not counted as deprived. That is only those who have an 'enforced' lack are counted as deprived, not those who lack something from choice.This allowance for choice was first introduced in the 1983 Breadline Britain survey and has been part of the PSE approach to deprivation ever since (see consensual method).

For a large majority of the household and individual items for adults, the percentage who do not have the item because they do not want it is less than 10% (16 out of 19 items). The exceptions are ‘regular savings of at least £20 a month’, for which 10% do not have but do not want, ‘appropriate cloths for job interviews’, for which 18% do not have but do not want it,  and ‘regular payments into an occupational or private pension, for which 38% do not have but do not want. All these items are affected by the age of the respondent and further analysis of the age related percentages would be needed to explore this further.

By contrast, for the activities for adults, it is only a minority of these activities (2 out of 5) for which the percentages who do not do the activity because they do not want to is less than 10%. For some, the percentage not wanting to do the activity is high – notably ‘taking part in sport or exercise’ at 34%. It seems that there a general consensus that adults should take part in exercise (it is seen as a necessity) but this is not translating into practise.

For children, the percentages who do not have an item because they do not want it are generally very low with 14 out of 17 being less than 10% and the large majority (12 out of 17) 1% or 2%. Similarly the percentages who do not do an activity because they do not want to tend to be low (5 out of 7 being below 10%).

For children, in particular, there has been much discussion as to whether this allowance for choice is appropriate or whether if a child lacks a socially perceived necessity, regardless of whether an adult says they lack it because they cannot afford it, then it is an abrogation of child rights and should be treated as a deprivation. For further discussion of this question see Appendix A, ‘Enforced lack sensitivity testing’ in the PSE 2012 final report on ‘Child poverty and social exclusion’ by Gill Main and Jonathan Bradshaw.

The 2012 PSE survey included - for the first time in this run of surveys- an additional choice for activities of wanting to do the activity but not be able to do so for a reason other than lack of money. This was to enable an examination of the other pressures on people’s lives that restrict their participation in key activities whether from lack of time, caring responsibilities, discrimination, or some other reason. Those who want to do an activity but do not do so for a reason other than lack of money have not been counted as deprived. In keeping with the definition of deprivation used in previous surveys, only those who do not have an item or do not do an activity because they cannot afford it are counted as deprived.

For adults for some activities, the percentages who want to take part but cannot do so for a reason other than lack of money, the percentages are high – notably ‘visiting family and friends in hospital of other institutions’ at 20%.  The percentage who do not take part in sport for other reasons than lack of money is also high at 12%. 

For children, the percentages not doing the activity for a reason other than lack of money tend to be low (again 5 out of 7 being below 10%). The main exception is attending a ‘toddler group or nursery once a week’ for which 10% don’t do it for another reason (13% don’t do it because they do not want to).

There appears to be a fairly random relationship between the percent of people who think that an item is a necessity of life and the percent of people who say that they want but cannot afford the item.  For those items seen as necessities by a majority, the concepts of ‘necessity’ and ‘affordability’ seem relatively uncorrelated at the population level.

 

Survey details

See PSE survey details for the sampling size and frame of the PSE UK 2012 Living Standards survey.

 

First posted:  1 June, 2016

Author: Joanna Mack