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Questions & Answers Letter I

INCOME DATA

Q. To what extent could SCORE be used to determine the proxy income for social rented tenants and can the Scottish Government source this information on local authorities behalf?

A. SCORE should provide an excellent proxy for social rented tenants income. It currently covers about 80% plus of lettings made by RSLs and includes rich information on type etc of household. SCORE is used by RSLs to measure affordability of the let and should contain accurate information on the tenant's income. Its current weakness is that it does not cover lets made by local authorities, a weakness which the Scottish Government will seek to address over the next couple of years.

Stuart Law is the lead analyst on SCORE data and he would be content to take forward any analysis you require. Please email andrew.whiste@scotland.gsi.gov.uk setting out your detailed requirements.

Q. Can you provide further guidance on where/how to obtain better information on the incomes of young adults and potential first time buyers, or advise what data could be used as a proxy?

A. The following charts, which presents information on family incomes in Scotland by the age of the family head and by tenure, show that the groups which are more likely to be first time buyers (younger people and renters) have incomes which are lower than much of the rest of the population.

Chart 1 shows that for families with heads in the 30 to 55 age bracket, the median gross weekly income is between £500 and £600. For younger families it is much lower than this. Families with heads in the 25 to 30 age group have a median gross weekly income of £428, while for those in the 20 to 25 age group this figure is £240.

Chart 2 shows that for families in rented accommodation, whether renting privately or from a social landlord, the median gross weekly income is less than £300. This is less than half the median gross weekly income for families that are living in accommodation that is owned with a mortgage.

These figures come from the Family Resources Survey which is the main source of household income information in the UK. Unfortunately they cannot be broken down to local authority level.

However, there are several official sources which can be used to find out more about income and earnings at local authority level and below. These include:

· The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

· The Labour Force Survey and Annual Population Survey

· The Scottish Household Survey

The Scottish Government plans to conduct a review of the Scottish Household Survey to assess the operation of (and uses made of) the survey with the primary aim of assessing the achieved benefits, quality and continued need for the survey and to maximise the benefits through appropriate question and topic content. As part of this review, consideration will be given to understanding the implications of producing "pooled samples" within the Scottish Household Survey itself and across the other large scale surveys conducted by the Scottish Government. This could allow larger samples to be created for key estimates with more timely and detailed analyses thus permissible. The review will take place during late 2009 and 2010 with all relevant information published on www.scotland.gov.uk/SHS.

To find out more about the data sources listed above, please visit the data sources and suitability section of the Income and Poverty Statistics website. For more details on the measurement of income and poverty in Scotland please contact the Income and Poverty Statistics Team on 0131 244 0794 or social-justice-analysis@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.