Systemic review outline: Poverty

We published our Review of Income-based poverty statistics on 19 May 2021


Poverty remains a significant issue for the UK and has the potential to be of greater importance as the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt in the labour market.

The concept of poverty means different things to different people and is therefore complicated to measure. While it may be difficult to define, it is important for central and local governments to understand the prevalence and nature of poverty in the areas they serve so that they can put targeted support in place.

We’ve been working in this space for a while, from regulatory reviews of benefit and deprivation statistics to casework on the use of poverty statistics in the public domain. It became clear to us that a review of poverty statistics was needed to enhance understanding and decision making in this area.

Our review looks across the spectrum of income-based poverty statistics and explores whether the statistical system is providing coherent and comprehensive information required to support decision making on poverty. We previously published a blog setting out our thoughts on the trouble with measuring poverty. Our review focuses on answering three key questions:

  • do the existing statistics help answer the key questions about income-based poverty in society today?
  • do the statistics tell a coherent story about poverty in the UK and provide a comprehensive evidence base to inform decision making on poverty?
  • is there sufficient quality guidance to help individuals understand how and when to use the statistics appropriately?

The scope of our review is focused on the priority areas we have identified:

  • the review considers income-based poverty measures only
  • it covers statistics on working-age adults, children and pensioners
  • the review focuses on the Official Statistics but we will engage with external organisations who produce alternative measures as part of our research
  • our review covers Official Statistics produced in the devolved nations as well as central Government
How we will do it - project roadmap
Nov 20 – Dec 20- Desk research on Official Statistics on poverty
- Determine key questions for user engagement
- Conversations with the relevant statistics producers
Jan 21 – Feb 21- Publish key questions
- User engagement in the form of:
- Focus groups
- Interviews
- Written submissions
(See below for how to get involved)
Mar 21 – Apr 21- Identify systemic issues from research and user engagement
- Follow up conversations with the statistics producers
- Write findings report
- Report shared with Regulation Committee
May 21- Publish report