Government urged to release official income statistics ahead of general election

The independent New Policy Institute (NPI), supported by researchers and charities working directly to combat poverty, has written today to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith urging him to publish the next official household income statistics ahead of the general election instead of after it.

The annual publication, Households Below Average Income (HBAI), used to be released in March. Since 2009, publication has slipped to May or June. HBAI is the only source of information that shows not just how households have been impacted by welfare and tax changes, but also how they have reacted to those changes, for example by finding a job.

The next release will show the effects of the tax and welfare package that came into effect in April 2013. Including the bedroom tax (or spare room subsidy), council tax support and the biggest ever annual increase in the income tax personal allowance, that package was by far the Coalition’s most important. With the economy beginning to strengthen then too, the overall effects are hard to predict. Only official data from HBAI can provide the definitive evidence.

NPI Director Dr Peter Kenway said:

“The April 2013 changes were very controversial but by the general election they can start to be judged on their longer term effects. The signatories to this letter, a mix of researchers and respected charities, are urging Mr Duncan Smith to publish the household income statistics by March so that what is sure to be an impassioned debate is also an informed one”.