Past UK research

The current research (PSE: UK) builds on the work of the Poverty and Social Exclusion survey in Britain in 1999, the Poverty and Social Exclusion survey in Northern Ireland in 2002/03 and the Breadline Britain surveys in 1983 and 1990. These surveys developed the consensual method of measuring poverty based on the public perception of necessities.

During that time, deprivation in Britain rose sharply. Looking at those households lacking three or more necessities because they could not afford them:

  • In 1983: 14 per cent of households had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.
  • In 1990: 21 per cent of households had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.
  • In 1999: 24 per cent of households had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.
  • In 2012: 33 per cent of households had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.

The 2002/03 survey in Northern Ireland found higher levels of deprivation there than in the rest of the United Kingdom:

  • In 2002/03: nearly 31.70 per cent of households in Northern Ireland had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.
  • In 2012: 36 per cent of households in Northern Ireland had an enforced lack of three or more necessities.

The statistical analyses carried out on the Breadline Britain surveys and the PSE Northern Ireland survey found that the poverty threshold – that is the point which best distinguishes between ‘poor’ and ‘not poor’ households – fell at a lack of three or more necessities. The PSE 1999 survey found the threshold to be at two or more necessities; 32 per cent of households lacked two or more necessities.

The PSE 1999 study in Britain proceeded to refine this definition by carrying out further statistical analysis on the group below the threshold to exclude those who, though deprived, had higher levels of income. The PSE study in Northern Ireland also proceeded to exclude from those who fell below the threshold, those on higher incomes. This approach has been further developed in the 2012 PSE research: see  "Producing an 'objective' poverty line in eight easy steps: PSE 2012 survey' and 'Note on the PSE 2012 Poverty and Deprivation measures', both by David Gordon, which can be found here.

These surveys, in turn, built on the Standards of Living in the United Kingdom 1968/69 survey. Through this survey, Peter Townsend developed the relative deprivation approach to poverty measurement as set out in Poverty in the United Kingdom (1979).

These studies have had considerable impact, and key indicators of deprivation, based on items considered by a majority of people to be necessary, are now included in the Family Resources Survey and in various European Union surveys.

 

Last updated: 1 June, 2016

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