Poverty in Northern Ireland

Senior social scientists and policy-makers meet in Belfast tomorrow (Friday, February 4) to explore how far the government is succeeding in abolishing child poverty, reducing social exclusion, and improving equal opportunities in Northern Ireland.

Brought together by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's biggest funder of social research, the seminar will examine the distribution of income, benefits and tax in Northern Ireland.

The starting point for the discussion will be a new ESRC report which summarises the latest research findings into poverty in Northern Ireland and what policies might be effective in reducing it.

Professors Paddy Hillyard and Eithne McLaughlin of The Queen's University of Belfast will deliver opening papers at the seminar and draw on their ground-breaking report, Bare necessities - poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland, and The bottom line: Severe child poverty in Northern Ireland shortly to be published by Save the Children in Northern Ireland.

Bare Necessities documented the extent of poverty that Northern Ireland families experience. It showed that a higher proportion of families are in poverty in Northern Ireland than in either Britain or the Republic of Ireland; and specifically found 185,000 households containing over 500,000 people were living below the poverty line. Poverty was measured by two yardsticks: low income and deprivation - having to go without things, which the public regard as necessities of life: such as enough money to pay heating, electricity and telephone bills on time and new, not second hand clothes.

The Bottom Line also showed that children and families in Northern Ireland are more deprived than their counterparts in Britain. In the words of Professor Hillyard, who described Northern Ireland as one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, "the challenge for Northern Ireland and local politicians is how to reduce these deep fractur

Contact: Becky Gammon
Economic & Social Research Council

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