Systemic review outline: Poverty


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, and it has become clear to us that a review of poverty statistics is really needed to enhance understanding and decision making in this area.

What we are doing and why

Our review aims to look across the spectrum of income-based poverty statistics and explore 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. We will focus 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 will be focused on the priority areas we have identified:

  • the review will consider income-based poverty measures only
  • it will cover statistics on working-age adults, children and pensioners
  • the review will focus on the Official Statistics but we will engage with external organisations who produce alternative measures as part of our research
  • our review will cover 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

Taking part

We would love to have your involvement in this work, so if you are interested in contributing to our poverty statistics review or would like to receive an alert as more information becomes available, please get in touch.

Contact Elise Baseley (Lead) or Catherine Bremner for more information.