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 April 2022 are for the period April 2020 to March 2021. Data collection in 2020/21 was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions resulting in a heavily reduced sample size. This has led to additional uncertainty around the estimates, particularly for smaller groups.

As such, for 2020/21, only figures relating to the whole population in NI are presented in this publication. At that time around 316,000 (17%) people in Northern Ireland lived in relative income poverty (before housing costs). 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

12% of people (approx. 223,000) in Northern Ireland live in absolute poverty before housing costs. 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

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”.

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.  

    Work on the development of the Anti-Poverty Strategy continues with a Co-design Group and a Cross-departmental Working Group. The Co-Design Group was established in November 2020 and comprises a membership of 27 voluntary and community and advisory organisations with a presence in NI that represent the breadth of work in the sector and have strong connections across the range of stakeholders whose views will need to be taken into account in developing in the Strategy. The Expert Advisory Panel met with and presented their recommendations to the Co-design Group on 8 December 2020. 

    The Cross-departmental Working Group was established in January 2021 and is made up of senior representatives across all departments who are currently working alongside DfC to develop the Strategy. 

    Development and drafting of the Anti-Poverty Strategy is ongoing.

    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 on children of living in poverty (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 Anti-Poverty Strategy Expert Advisory Panel’s report is being used to inform the development of the Executive’s Anti-Poverty Strategy and the recommendations relating to child poverty are being considered in this context.

    The Action Plan accompanying the Child Poverty 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:


    The Anti-Poverty Strategy Expert Panel has provided its recommendations to the Minister and its report is available.


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