The Northern Ireland Poverty and Income Inequality Report (2022-23) is released

Date published: 27 March 2024

A publication entitled “The Northern Ireland Poverty and Income Inequality report (2022/23)” was published today by DfC.

News

This publication provides estimates of the proportion and number of individuals, children, working age adults and pensioners living in relative and absolute poverty (both before and after housing costs), and other statistics relating to household income and income inequality.

Key facts include:

Unless specifically stated, annual changes in poverty estimates are not statistically significant.

With the exception of pensioners, poverty estimates have increased in NI in 2022/23 from some historic lows in the previous year. While most of the changes are not statistically significant, the increases in children in relative poverty (before housing costs) and working age adults in absolute poverty (after housing costs) are. In general, poverty rates in NI seem to be returning to pre-pandemic levels.

In 2022/23 median household income in NI fell by 5%, compared to a 1% fall in the UK as a whole. As poverty rates are based on household incomes below 60% of the UK median income, this disparity is one of the main drivers behind the increase in poverty levels experienced in NI.

Whole population – Poverty (Before Housing Costs):

  • In 2022/23, 18% of individuals (approx. 349,000 people) were estimated to be living in relative poverty; compared to 16% in 2021/22. The percentage of individuals in absolute poverty in 2022/23 stood at 14% (approx. 271,000 people); compared to 13% in 2021/22.
  • Over the last decade, relative poverty has shown no discernible trend, with a high of 22% in 2014/15 and lows of 16% in 2017/18 and 2021/22. Absolute poverty has shown a downward trend, with a high of 21% in 2013/14 and a low of 12% in 2020/21.

Children - Poverty (Before Housing Costs):

  • The percentage of children living in relative poverty in 2022/23 was 24%; compared to 18% in 2021/22. This is a statistically significant increase. Children living in absolute poverty rose from 15% to 19% over the same period.
  • There is no discernible trend over the last ten years for children living in relative poverty; compared to a downward trend for children living in absolute poverty.

Working-age adults – Poverty (Before Housing Costs):

  • In 2022/23 the proportion of working age adults in relative poverty was 17%; a rise from 14% in 2021/22. The absolute poverty rate for working age adults changed from 12% in 2021/22 to 13% in 2022/23.
  • The percentage of working-age adults in both relative and absolute poverty has consistently been lower than that of the whole population but has followed a similar trend.

Pensioners – Poverty (After Housing Costs):

  • When considering pensioner poverty, the After Housing Costs analysis is the preferred measure. This is because over three-quarters of pensioners live in homes that are owned outright (compared to roughly a third of working-age adults), and so face minimal housing costs.
  • In 2022/23 the proportion of pensioners in relative poverty was 12%; compared to 16% in 2021/22. Over the same period, absolute poverty for pensioners decreased from 12% to 7%. This is a statistically significant decrease.
  • Over the last decade, the proportion of pensioners in relative poverty has shown no discernible trend, fluctuating from a high of 16% (in 2013/14 and 2021/22) to a low of 10% in 2018/19. Over the same period, absolute poverty has shown a downward trend, with a high of 17% in 2013/14 to a low of 7% in 2022/23.

Comparisons with the UK

  • DWP released poverty estimates for the UK on 21st March 2024. Comparisons with UK figures should only be made on the After Housing Costs (AHC) measure due to the different treatment of rates and water charges in the calculation.
  • In 2022/23, 21% of individuals in the UK were in relative poverty (AHC) and 18% were in absolute poverty (AHC). This compares to figures of 19% and 14% respectively in NI.
  • In 2022/23, 30% of children in the UK were in relative poverty (AHC) (compared to 25% in NI), and 25% were in absolute poverty (AHC) (compared to 20% in NI).

Notes to editors: 

  1. This publication presents annual estimates of the percentage and number of people, children, working age adults and pensioners living in poverty in Northern Ireland (NI). The data published in this report are for the financial year April 2022 to March 2023. 
  2. Figures presented in this publication are taken from the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) dataset, which is based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  The FRS has been running in Great Britain since 1992 and was subsequently introduced to Northern Ireland in April 2002. The FRS consists of approximately 2,000 face to face interviews with NI households in a normal year.
  3. The composition and size of the FRS sample for 2020/21 (700 households) and 2021/22 (1,700 households) was affected by a move to telephone interviewing in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For 2022/23 (1,900 households), fieldwork operations employed a mix of both face-to-face and telephone interviewing.
  4. Changes in estimates over recent years should be interpreted being mindful of the differences in data collection approaches across the period and the effect this had on sample composition, with longer term trends often giving a clearer picture.
  5. An infographic on how poverty is measured in the Poverty and Income Inequality Report
  6. An individual is considered to be in relative poverty if they are living in a household with an income below 60% of UK median income in the year in question. In 2022/23 the threshold was £373 per week (BHC) for a couple with no children (the benchmark for HBAI). Therefore, a couple with no children that have a combined income below £373 per week would be considered to be in relative poverty.
  7. An individual is considered to be in absolute poverty if they are living in a household with an income below 60% of the inflation-adjusted 2010/11 UK median income. In 2022/23 the threshold was £347 per week (BHC) for a couple with no children. Therefore, a couple with no children that have a combined income below £347 per week would be considered to be in absolute poverty.
  8. All monetary amounts quoted in the key findings are in 2022/23 prices and any changes presented are in real terms i.e. after adjusting for inflation.
  9. This publication is available at: Communities NI
  10. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Communities Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 0769 9715440 and your call will be returned.

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