About PSE UK

Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom is a major research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Launched in May 2010, two major surveys into the public’s perceptions of necessities and into living standards were carried out in 2012.

The first results were published on 28 March, 2013.

PSE:UK is the largest research project of its kind ever carried out in the UK and has found very high levels of deprivation in the UK today. Read the first report, The Impoverishment of the UK.

The research uses the consensual method for measuring poverty and is developing and improving on the ‘Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey in Britain in 1999’ (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation). This 1999 survey followed the ‘Breadline Britain in the 1990s’ and ‘Breadline Britain 1983’ surveys.This method was also used in the PSE Northern Ireland survey in 2002/3. It will therefore be the fourth in a series of nationally representative surveys in Britain and the second in Northern Ireland that use a consensual measure of minimum necessary living standards and direct measures of material and social deprivation rather than solely relying on proxy income data.

The PSE UK research is based on two major surveys which were in the field in 2012:

  • An attitudinal survey into the public’s perceptions of necessities and attitudes to services.

  • A large-scale survey of living standards to examine the nature, extent and causes of deprivation and social exclusion.

In addition, two qualitative research studies have been undertaken:

  • An investigation into the experiences of living on low income during recession in Gloucestershire, the West Midlands and Strathclyde.

  • An exploration of the role of the family when coping with poverty in Northern Ireland.

A summary of the aims of this research as set out in the ESRC bid can be found in Poverty and social exclusion in the UK: ten years into the new millennium. The research aims to establish:

  • What are the best methods for measuring poverty, deprivation, social exclusion and standard of living?

  • How are the different dimensions of poverty, deprivation and social exclusion related?

  • What is the current extent and nature of poverty and how has it changed?

  • What policies best address these problems?