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Public Cooperation with the Household Expenditure Enquiry, 1953-1954

The Household Expenditure Enquiry of 1953-54 was the first large-scale enquiry into household expenditure and income in the United Kingdom since the Family Budget Enquiry of 1937-1938. It was intended to cover 20,000 households and the Ministry of Labour and National Service (MLNS) proudly proclaimed that public cooperation with the survey had ‘exceeded our most optimistic hopes’. But just how compliant were members of the public, and were there complaints about government intrusion? Mark Dunton discusses these records, now fully opened up to researchers thanks to the British Living Standards Project delivered by the University of Sussex and the UK Data Archive.


Public cooperation with the Household Expenditure Enquiry 1953 to 1954: that’s my subject. In this talk, my aim is to give some historical context to the Household Expenditure Enquiry and the fascinating raw products of the Enquiry which are the returns held by The National Archives in the series LAB 24 – LAB standing for the Ministry of Labour and its various guises. These returns, in terms of access to data, have now been fully opened up to researchers for the first time thanks to the British Living Standards Project which is the work of the University of Sussex: a particular team led by Ian Gazeley and Andy Newell. But more about that later.

I’m going to start with a look at state interventionism and attitudes to it, during and after the Second World War, and I’m going to set expenditure surveys in their historical context. I’ll also explain how the 1953 Enquiry was carried out, looking at publicity for it and the selling points that they used to try and win the public over. Then I’ll move on to look at some of the positive aspects of public cooperation. I’m going to show you some interesting document examples from the series LAB 24, the returns which were filled out by the public. Then I’m going to cover the more problematic aspects associated with non-cooperation; the types of people who did not cooperate, reasons for non-cooperation, regional perspectives as well, before then drawing to a conclusion. I’ll be happy to take any questions at the end, perhaps we can have a little discussion, let’s see how times goes.

So, an important part of the British experience of the Second World War was a huge expansion of the role of the state in everyday lives. It was all done by Statue, as I’m going to explain. Under the Emergency Powers Act of 1939 and 1940, the Government assumed wide-ranging powers through the defence regulations. It can be argued that the measure with the greatest impact on the general public was rationing, particularly food rationing but there were other types of control. In Never Again: Britain 1945-51, Peter Hennessy writes:

‘Never before and never since has a British Government taken so great and so intrusive a range of powers over the lives of its citizens: where they worked, what they did in uniform or civvies, what they ate, what they wore, what they could read in the newspapers and what they could hear on the wireless sets’

But the high degree of state interventionism was not relaxed after the war ended.

Britain’s economic situation in 1945 was perilous; the country was virtually bankrupt. A further period of austerity was inevitable. As Paul Addison points out in his excellent book No Turning Back: The Peacetime Revolutions of Post-War Britain, the post-war Labour Government, committed to a planned economy, decided to ‘Retain many of the wartime emergency powers for broadly defined peace-time purposes’. The Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill which was passed in October 1945 made it possible to extend wartime emergency powers over the economy by five years. Defence Regulation 55 provided extensive powers regarding the control of goods and services; wartime controls over rationing continued.

There was some unease about the proliferation of bureaucratic regulations. Paul Addison cites a quotation by the Archbishop of York, Dr Garbett. Dr Garbett voiced his concerns about this scheme in 1947:

‘I question if it is really necessary, when we are crying out for labour, to employ an army of 570,000 clerks and secretaries in the Civil Service to keep the law abiding citizen in order. I question if it is necessary to send out a constant stream of forms with long lists of interrogations, while at the same time, paper for the use of the press is drastically reduced’ showing that even paper for newsprint was rationed for a time.

Post-war austerity was obviously a long, hard grind for the British people. Some light relief was offered by the Ealing Comedies, which I’m sure a number of you are familiar with, which give valuable insight into the state of the nation at that time. Passport to Pimlico 1949 struck a chord with many at the time. The plot essentially involved Pimlico declaring itself independent from the remainder of Britain. Describing themselves as Burgundians due to an ancient document found in a bomb crater. They enjoyed immediate freedom from the restrictions. To quote Paul Addison: ‘There was a scene in a pub of ration books and ID cards being torn up, that apparently provoked roars of applause from the cinema audiences.’ Whitehall Civil Servants, portrayed as upper class toffs, tried to persuade the Pimlico community, or the Burgundians, to re-join the rest of Britain. I think that’s what’s being shown here [shows image]: note the barbed wire in the foreground. But the Civil Servants are told ‘We’re sick and tired
of your voice in this country.’ Now in the end, this situation was resolved, a compromise is found and Pimlico returns to the fold. However, the rebellious aspects displayed in this film did have resonance for audiences weary of austerity and restrictions in 1949.

It should also be noted that food rationing was only lifted between 1952 and 1954, so when the Ministry of Labour and National Service carried out a Household Expenditure Survey in 1953-54 asking 20,000 household across the UK to provide details of their expenditure in all areas including housing, fuel, light, food, clothing, household goods, vehicles, transport, services and other categories, you might have been tempted to think that such a request would have provoked angry refusals to cooperate on a large scale. Eight years on from the end of the war, that it would be seen as a major act of Government intrusion on personal and private lives.

But far from it; here is an extract from a glowing press notice issued by the Ministry of Labour and National Service on 12 July 1954 following the completion of the survey. I’ll just read this bit:

‘Over 13,000 households have cooperated with the Ministry of Labour and National Service in its Household Expenditure Enquiry. This represents two out of every three of approximately 20,000 households asked to help.’

There were a number of addresses that they found …They’d got these addresses from the ratings lists, but then they found that actually either a number of them were unoccupied or derelict or maybe bombed out. ‘The enquiry began in January 1953 and lasted until the early part of this year’ it continues:

‘The 20,000 addresses were selected by a scientific method of sampling and every household found to be living at these addresses was visited and asked to help by furnishing records of its spending during a period of three consecutive weeks. Preliminary figures obtained from detailed information now being critically examined at the headquarters of the Ministry, show that 67% of all the households selected completed records of their expenditure.’ The Ministry press release goes on to state: ‘A response of this magnitude was totally unexpected. Previous experience of surveys of this kind has suggested that not more than 50% of households would be willing to supply comprehensive and intimate details of their expenditure and income.’

Now, I’m going on to examine the factors which explain this positive result a little later, but first a bit of background. The Ministry refers to previous experience of surveys of this kind. So when did such surveys begin? Let’s just remind ourselves of the historical background to this. The origins of social science in Britain can be traced back to the pioneering work of the social investigators …; Charles Booth and his investigation of poverty in London in the 1880s and 1890s, those poverty maps which I’m sure you’ve probably heard of; Benjamin Rowntree and his study of poverty in York in 1901 in particular; and Maud Pember Reeves and her study of living conditions in Lambeth which were published round about £1 a week in 1913.

I thought it would be useful to just touch on a brief overview of the Retail Price Index and its predecessor known as the Cost of Living Index. It’s a rather stop and start series of measures. Gradually, some of the approaches and methodologies of the social investigators that I just mentioned get taken up by Government agencies, although in a very limited way to begin with. So, the Cost of Living Index was actually started just prior to the 1914-18 war in a limited way, but this Index gradually became outmoded because of changing patterns of consumption. It wasn’t until 1937-38 that a large-scale Household Expenditure Enquiry was carried out in order particularly to obtain the facts on working-class family expenditure.

Further activity on this front was interrupted by the Second World War, rather inconveniently. In June 1947 a new index, the Interim Index of Retail Prices was started; again, it was drawing on the 1937-38 patterns of expenditure. The shopping basket indicator, which is still in use today, dates from 1947. This really involves a sort of imaginary, or hypothetical, shopping basket full of the products that people typically spend their money on. The contents of the basket are fixed for a year and since of course the prices of individual products go up or down, mainly up it seems to me in my experience, so will the cost of the basket. Of course, what gets chosen to be put in that basket is also a very interesting thing to watch over the years.

By the early 1950s, expenditure patterns were changing again, particularly with the lifting of rationing hence the need for a new, large scale, enquiry in the form of the Household Expenditure Enquiry of 1953. A new index, the Index of Retail Prices, commenced in 1956 using weights based on the expenditure patterns derived from that ’53 Enquiry. Now in many ways, the 1953 Enquiry was the kind of high watermark of these surveys; future surveys were not as large in scale.

A continuous survey on a smaller scale, the Family Expenditure Survey, was started in January 1957. Under that, each year a sample of about 5000 addresses were selected and visited in rotation throughout the year. Households were asked to maintain detailed expenditure records for 14 consecutive days but, as I’ve mentioned, for the ’53 Enquiry it was actually 21 days for that and the total in theory was 20,000 households. Not everybody was in and some of the houses were unoccupied.

Back to the Household Expenditure Enquiry in 1953: how did it work and what type of publicity was used? The 20,000 addresses selected were visited by officers of the Ministry of Labour and National Service or the Government Social Survey Organisation which also conducted interviews in one third of the selected areas. The interviewers explained the purpose of the Enquiry and how the forms were to be filled in. Hopefully they were invited into the household rather than just remaining on the doorstep; that was a bad sign really, if you just stayed on the doorstep. The interviewers, what they did initially, was they gave this explanatory leaflet to each adult member of the household asked to help and this is it [shows item].

By looking at this little leaflet, at just four pages, we can get an idea of how the Enquiry was sold to the public. It’s all pretty clear, actually; it’s conveyed in admirable plain English for the most part. The need for accurate information concerning goods and services in relation to the Index of Retail Prices is emphasised up front.

The Cost of Living Index had a great deal of bearing on wages in the highly expanded public sector. According to a Cost of Living Advisory Committee note of 19 January 1954, some two million people have their wages automatically adjusted under sliding scale agreements according to movements in the Index. It is essential, therefore, that the Index should be based on accurate and up-to-date information about spending.

There were some other, underlying, purposes behind the Enquiry which were not mentioned in the leaflet. Particularly with reference to nutrition; the Government wished to learn about the nature and extent of deficiencies in diet, but that was very much a secondary purpose. Note that, in the top paragraph, the Ministry is offering £1 to each member of the household who helps, as an incentive. In reports from local officers following the survey, opinions about the effectiveness of this incentive were mixed. A report from the London and South Eastern regional office stated: ‘While the cash was welcome, it was by no means an overwhelming factor in securing cooperation’.

Some comments suggest that the return was small for the work involved. Another report stated that the offer of £1 did help to gain cooperation, particularly in the poorer households. However, I think too that the cash incentive was not the prime driver behind the success of the survey; there were other factors at work and I’ll come on to those.

Notice also the reassurance about the complete anonymity of the survey under that section which says ‘What happens to the information you give?’ It says: ‘All the details you give will be treated as strictly confidential. Your name and address will be kept secret.’ This was an important selling point; interviewers assured householders that once the forms had been returned, the personal identity details would be destroyed.

There’s an exhortation at the bottom of the page along the lines of ‘Your country needs you. Only those who spend the money can give the true facts about their expenditure. Will you help to make this Enquiry a success?’

If the £1 cash incentive wasn’t the main factor behind the high level of cooperation, what were the truly persuasive selling points? A report from the London and South Eastern regional office sums it up admirably. It says that some of the most popular lines of sales talk were: a) the possible tie-up of the cost of living with wage claims b) the non-political nature of the Enquiry c) the complete anonymity of the Enquiry d) it was a public spirited action to fill it out.

That last point is crucial. In its triumphant press release the Ministry of Labour and National Service praised the widespread sense of civic duty that the high level of representation represented. This is a point that comes through the various reports from the regional officers. In 1953, Britain, coming out of rationing, may have been on the cusp of moving into a more individualistic society focused on materialism and the comforts of home. But the sense of a collective national effort engendered by the Second World War hasn’t faded yet and it still seems to retain much of its power. I think it’s also true to state, as a generalisation, that the Britain of the early 1950s was a deferential society compared with modern day Britain. Incidentally, I understand this image of a Coronation Street party was taken in New England Street in Brighton [shows image].

In various Ministry of Labour and National Service administrative files in two series LAB 17 and LAB 94, there is a large amount of detailed analysis of the level of public cooperation with the survey which I’m going to be drawing on. In early 1954 Ministry headquarters asked local officers in the various regions for information about their experience of interviews with members of the public. I like this quaint picture [shows image]. Obviously that’s not actually a Local Information Officer there but it kind of, you know, sums up the thing.

So, the local officers in the regions duly sent detailed information in to headquarters in the form of letters and I’ve read through these letters and drawn out the salient points and themes which are all pretty consistent throughout. Their comments are based on impressions rather than quantitative data, but the general validity of their assessments is backed up by the sheer consistency of the reports from the various regions. Actually, there is some quantitative data within the files, which I will refer to.

Let’s begin with the straightforwardly positive aspects of public cooperation. A comment from the South Western Regional Officer sums up the big picture: ‘The general attitude of persons approached was cooperative and friendly.’ The interviewers who visited the households to explain its purpose and to advise the householders on how to fill out the forms, seem to have been highly successful.

It’s not surprising that they should receive positive comments in the Ministry’s own files, but praise for them is very warmly and widely expressed. A draft letter to all regional controllers praised the enthusiasm, patience and tact of the officers who visited the households. A letter from Southern Regional Office refers to the ‘great interest and enthusiasm which our interviewers brought to the job. They took this work on very readily and put a great deal into it in a sustained effort, even when they had to pay visits by bicycle in country districts in all weather conditions.’ It’s a rather quaint notion, in a way.

The interview process could be amazingly successful. GED Ball of the North Midlands region reported that: ‘the majority of our Officers were invited indoors and eventually got on very good terms with the family and in some instances, the acquaintanceship thus made has ripened into a permanent friendship.’ These are quite big claims.

Another summary from the Midland region stated that ‘Some old and lonely people living alone welcomed the visits of interviewers and were sorry when the Enquiry was completed.’ An impression is given of lonely souls, simply grateful for the company.

A report from Scottish headquarters stated that there were many incidents e.g. the interviewer who, on satisfactory conclusion of his mission, was invited by two gentle old ladies to join them in family prayers. Another, where the interviewer was mistaken for a wedding guest and before he could say a word about the purpose of his visit, found himself with a glass of whisky in one hand and a piece of cake in the other.

It is striking just how conscientious most cooperating households were in their response to the survey. For example, the South Western Regional Officer reported: ‘Bills and receipts were generally consulted by informants and resort to memory occurred only in respect of minor and odd items.’ A report relating to the Northern Region stated: ‘The co-operators went to great trouble to record and vouch for expenditure: bills, rent books, etc, were almost invariably consulted.’

Many seem to positively enjoy the survey and it introduced some to the concept of household budgeting. A Southern region report stated that: ‘Most people were genuinely interested in the Enquiry and many made the remark that for the first time they saw in detail where there money was being spent and exactly what they were getting for it.’ Margaret Thatcher would have approved, though she might have been somewhat shocked that people weren’t already budgeting in this way.

I’d like to show you some examples now from the raw products of the Enquiry, the Household Expenditure returns held in our records series LAB 24 to demonstrate the level of meticulous detail that some co-operators provided. It’s the data contained in these very returns that the University of Sussex team has utilised for the splendid Living Standards project.

So what they did is, they’ve essentially crunched all the data from these returns into a gigantic database…The data in these returns that they’ve used, and that’s now available to download from the UK Data Archive. Thus this incredibly valuable information would be truly opened up to researchers for the first time because you know, really, these actual returns are just described in the most general way. It goes down to town level, towns and cities and regions, but it doesn’t really go down any further than that in the catalogue.

Let’s show you an example from Glasgow Central [shows item]. Note the precise quantities: weights of meat that are recorded, sausages etc. Everything’s recorded quite precisely. Some people fretted about this when they were purchasing meat at the butcher’s as well as the shillings and pence spent. There’s not much in the way of fruit and vegetables; there’s an awful lot of stodge recorded in these returns. No black pudding is in there. Heinz soup, spelt with a…well, it’s an interesting spelling whether it’s an E on the end. You can start to see how brand names were already quite well established by 53-54. Also note spaghetti with its unusual spelling…So gradually, Britain is moving to slightly more exotic foods.

Here’s an entry from a relatively well to do household in Southsea, Portsmouth [shows item]. Now calling it well to do, well that’s my assumption, but there are some clues. For example, there’s an interviewer’s note that the sons are at boarding school and the husband pays all the fees. It’s another long and detailed list and some more brand names are mentioned: Rice Krispies, KitKat, Lassie dog food; it’s all quite interesting stuff. Looking at the same household, the housewife who filled in these returns was incredibly conscientious. Look at this long explanation that she volunteers in the notes section. Purely optional about filling it in and she’s written ‘The past three weeks, for a variety of reasons, have not been good examples of my average household expenditure.’
She goes on to explain why: she’s had some paying guests for Bed and Breakfast, she’s spent far more than usual on repairs and decorations in the house. Then she goes on to detail her average household expenditure, worked out over a more normal 12 month period. This is all her calculations that she’s presenting to them. They probably found it actually was more than they could use, but it does show a certain attitude: very cooperative.

Just to reinforce the point that the account of expenditure that they expected really did cover everything, not just food. In this entry [shows item], a return from Royal Tunbridge Wells, we can see and it’s a bit difficult to see because I think it’s written in pencil, essentially it’s steel (‘S-T-E-A-L’) wool, one tin of metal polish, one Beano, two comics (unspecified), money for the gas meter and Tide soap powder.

These examples show just how thorough and conscientious people were. I’ve already covered the reasons for the high degree of cooperation for the survey and I do wonder, on a general note, if we’re looking at a national character trait here. I’ve seen it argued, and I’m convinced by this actually; that the British people like filling in forms in general, and you may argue against me that’s fine, have a tendency to be precise. One of the reasons why the rationing system of coupons worked so well was that people liked the preciseness of it; the completeness that it represented as well as the across the board fairness of it. Anyway, it’s just a point I’ll leave you to mull over: the British love of forms; it is debatable, perhaps.

Now, so far I’ve been really talking about straightforward cooperation but now I’d like to start looking at the more nuanced findings and the problematic areas. What other observations did the Ministry of Labour and National Service make after the survey? Again, I’m going to draw on the reports that the Officers sent in in the various regions because they’ve got a number of points in common.

One thing they say is that women were the most cooperative and the point comes out that, and I quote, from a report from the Northern region: ‘Some male wage earners were reluctant to disclose their earnings because of a disparity between what they earned and what they gave their wives.’ You can see where this is going. There were a few people who flatly refused to give details of income. It was suspected that drinking and betting expenditure were seldom fully disclosed in households where members’ records were open to one another. Yes, the difference between the received pay packet and perhaps what the husband might pass on to the wife or whatever.

After the Enquiry of 1953 it was realised that there had been widespread reluctance to record the full amount spent on alcoholic drink and also tobacco. This was also the experience in the 1937-38 Enquiry; more evidence of national trait here. It’s a classic example of the sort of factor that social scientists need to take account of with this type of survey. Sweets and chocolates, ice cream, soft drinks, and expenditure on meals outside the home were also under-recorded, it was found.

Which types of people were less inclined to cooperate? The Eastern regional office based in Cambridge reported that many elderly people refused to take part in the survey and there’s a general agreement on this point in the regional reports. Though, a report from the Southern region was more nuanced:
‘Elderly folk were often reluctant at first, but after cooperation had been obtained, they were one of the most helpful classes. Sometimes the £1 payment was an inducement to pensioners owing to their meagre incomes.’ It is implied in the reports that the elderly were more suspicious and tended to find the array of forms rather bewildering.

Farmers are one group which are mentioned in particular who were reluctant to give details of their income, as were some self-employed people. These groups were a concern that information would be revealed to the income tax authorities. Yes there was, according to the Welsh Office, a Wales Office, a deep routed suspicion that there was a hidden reason for the Enquiry other than that stated and generally it was attributed to an income tax snoop. However, although farmers are singled out for special mention in this context, there was a general support for the observation of the Midland region, that: ‘People in country districts are found to be more approachable and less suspicious than those in built up areas.’ With the inference that urban areas were less cooperative.

Areas where certain trades were concentrated could be problematic, particularly the sort of jobs where the head of the household might be away for large parts of the day. It could be difficult to make contact or secure cooperation in such areas; mining and fishing areas are mentioned, although this sometimes applied to the countryside as well, particularly at harvest time.

There was a general consensus that the higher income groups were less inclined to cooperate; business and professional people, the upper and middle classes. An Eastern region report stated that: ‘The middle classes were inclined to be hostile, giving the impression that they resented enquiries into their private affairs.’

An example is quoted of a senior civil servant, who worked in the Inland Revenue department, in Southend, who refused to allow members of his household to take part in the Enquiry stating that the best way to reduce the cost of living was to halve the size of the Civil Service. He was a Civil Servant himself, so it was quite interesting.

Southern region report that the households which did not cooperate were mainly in the higher income groups. Examples quoted are occupants of a super-service flat, lawyers, a senior Civil Servant, a doctor, a dentist and the self-employed businessman. We can only surmise that these categories did not feel that there was so much at stake for them in completing this survey.

Now let’s move on to a few facts and figures. A paper by the Retail Prices Technical Committee gives the grant total of households who did not cooperate with the Enquiry, including households which could not be contacted, were not eligible, or the address was not occupied, was 7006 out of the 20,000 originally selected. Some analysis was carried out on the reasons for not cooperating, shown in this extract [shows item], which are quite interesting when you look at it, although some of the categories are a bit vague. Obviously there’s quite a high figure there under responses such as: too busy, too much bother, or too difficult, and you can see old age or old age associated with sickness 406. Households who declined to give any information whatsoever, including their reasons for not cooperating …so there obviously were some refuseniks.

Referring to my earlier mention of resentment about Government restrictions, which may have boosted the success of Passport to Pimlico some four years before the Enquiry. So is there any evidence of such feeling? Precious little, it seems, though it does appear on the radar. For example, a London and South Eastern regional report stated that:
‘There were a few isolated instances of somewhat irate reactions, due in some cases to the fact that other Government departments had been making investigations into food regulations or income tax matters and of course anti-everything fanatics.’

A North Western region report commented that ‘There was of course the odd refusal because of a dislike of any form of Government control or direction or enquiry of any kind.’ However, it appears that this type of refusal was generally rare.

GED Ball of the North Midlands region stated that:
‘The interviewers at the commencement of the Enquiry in January 1953 all felt the benefit of the initial official publicity which countered the bad effect of the unfortunate and irresponsible use of the word “snoopers” in some newspapers and especially a BBC broadcast.’ I haven’t actually been able to investigate the newspaper archives on that point but I’d like to in the future if I can.

Which regions were less inclined to cooperate? This is a gigantic table of the summary of results, visits for the whole country [shows image]. If you look at the figures in the last set of columns in this table, the lowest percentage figures for households supplying complete records are, in reverse order, the County of London (I think that excludes the City of London) 55% – it’s still not a bad response- that’s the lowest, the North Western region 59% and the South Western region 60%. The highest result is for Northern Ireland: 80%.

Now I haven’t found any truly satisfactory explanations for these results in the files. It’s stated that ‘rural households cooperated more than those in urban areas’ and that might explain the relatively low responses for the County of London and the heavily industrialised North West. But then you’ve also got a relatively poor showing for the South West, which I would think of as more rural. Any explanations you can think of would be welcome; perhaps we can discuss this afterwards.
So, moving to a conclusion. We’ve been looking at the more problematic aspects of the Household Expenditure Enquiry; the aspects of it which were associated with non cooperation. But drawing to a conclusion, the big pig picture regarding public cooperation is summed up very well by that glowing press release I referred to of the Ministry of Labour and National Service in July 1954 with its triumphant reaction to the estimated 67% completion rate:
‘The fact that two thirds of all the households proved willing to go to so much trouble to assist the Enquiry is a clear indication of a widespread sense of civic duty.’

In 1953, Britain, coming out of rationing, may have been on the cusp of moving to a more individualistic society focused on materialism and the comforts of the home, but the sense of a collective national effort engendered by the Second World War hasn’t faded as yet and it still seems to retain much of its power. However, perhaps we can see in the reported refusals to cooperate in the higher income groups, reacting against state intrusion, that this is just beginning to break down.

In this talk my aim’s been to give some historical context to the Household Expenditure Enquiry and the fascinating returns that we hold in the series LAB 24. As I’ve mentioned, it’s great, brilliant, that these returns in terms of the data in them, have now been fully opened up to enquirers by the University of Sussex in collaboration with The National Archives and that you can now download the data – it’s free to do so – from the UK Data Archive []. You’ve just got to accept their terms and conditions, and you can download it. I think the whole idea is to put it there as a resource for historians to use.

I should mention as well, the very impressive Teacher Scholar scheme. We have Andrew Payne, head of our Education department, here with us. The Teacher Scholar scheme is a product of a close collaboration with the University of Sussex team and The National Archives.

There was a really excellent scheme involving some teachers who then, under the guidance given by The National Archives and University of Sussex, they’ve created packages which can now be delivered in classrooms by teachers, drawing on the data in these returns. Capturing the imagination of children in terms of…I think one of the sort of things is your shopping basket now, thinking about it now and then thinking about it then and looking at the examples of what people spent their money on, as a way of drawing children’s interest into modern history. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

The 1953 Household Expenditure Survey was clearly very significant. It was sourced by Professors Peter Townsend and Brian Abel-Smith in their highly influential 1965 study on poverty: The Poor and the Poorest.

Anyway, that’s where I shall stop. Thank you very much. Thank you [applause].

Transcribed by Cath Pritchard as part of a volunteer project, May 2015