Poverty Policy

The Poverty Policy team (Central Policy Division) has responsibility for developing, co-ordinating and driving the Executive’s priorities for tackling poverty.

Poverty in Northern Ireland

The most recent statistics, published on 14 May 2020 are for the period April 2018 to March 2019. At that time around 350,000 (19%) people in Northern Ireland lived in relative income poverty (before housing costs) including approximately 107,000 (24%) children. People are considered to be living in relative income poverty if the income of their household is less than 60% of the UK median household income.

16% of people (approx. 303,000) in Northern Ireland live in absolute poverty before housing costs. This can be further broken down to: 21% of children, 12% of pensioners and 16% of the working age population. The causes of poverty are many and varied. People are considered to be in absolute income poverty if the income of their household is less than 60% of the UK median household income for 2010-11 (adjusted year on year for inflation). Further information on the statistics can be found within the Family Resources Survey

Poverty strategies

Anti-poverty Strategy

In line with New Decade New Approach, the Department is developing an Anti-Poverty Strategy that aims to address inequalities and obstacles that directly affect the everyday lives of the most vulnerable people in society and will bring focus to identifying and addressing the issues, barriers and disadvantages that undermine equality of opportunity. It is planned that the Anti-Poverty Strategy will be published in December 2021 subject to Executive approval.

There is a statutory obligation in section 28E of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 for the Executive to “adopt a strategy setting out how it proposes to tackle poverty, social exclusion and patterns of deprivation based on objective need”. 

The Expert Panel have provided their recommendations to the Minister and their report is available.

Child Poverty Strategy

The Executive’s Child Poverty Strategy, published in March 2016, sets out the vision to eradicate child poverty in the future.  The aims of the strategy are to: reduce the number of children in poverty; and reduce the impact of living in poverty on children (their lives and life chances).   The Strategy sets out our goals to ensure programmes and policies provide extra support for children in poverty, improve outcomes for children in low-income families and take children out of poverty.

The Executive agreed to extend the 2016 -2019 Child Poverty Strategy to May 2022.  The purpose of this extension is to allow time for key stakeholders to be consulted on whether the Anti-Poverty Strategy covering all age groups is sufficient or whether the development of a Child Poverty Strategy is also required.

The Action Plan accompanying the Strategy has also been updated to reflect ongoing priorities and programmes tackling child poverty and its impacts.

Annual Reports on the Child Poverty Strategy are laid in the Assembly.  The Annual Reports can be downloaded at the links below:



Research has been carried out into a number of key issues affecting people affected by poverty. Please click on the links below to view some of the most recent reports.


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