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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 11:00 GMT
Rich-poor gap widening
Big Issue seller
The UK's poor are getting poorer
The gap between the rich and poor in Britain is widening for the first time in a decade.

The Office for National Statistics' 31st annual Social Trends survey suggests Britain is experiencing trends not seen since the boom and bust of the 1980s.

The 270-page report also revealed that Britain was one of the most expensive countries in Europe in which to live.

The report portrays a Britain where the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.

It says that after stabilising in the 1980s, the distribution of income between the two groups appears to be widening again.

The richest 10% of the population have seen their income increase at a rate more than twice that of the poorest 10%.

The survey also reveals that borrowing has almost doubled since 1987. Consumer debt now stands at nearly 115bn.

Britain has become the fourth most expensive country in Europe.

Consumers in only Denmark, Sweden and Finland have less purchasing power.

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See also:

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