Poverty, the economy and the chancellor…

Ambrose picked up this story in the Guardian’s Society section yesterday which looked at the issue of child poverty in Northern Ireland – 8% of children are living in severe poverty. Of these, forty per cent “live in households where the gas, electricity or telephone have been cut off. Half live with a lone parent, while 27% have parents with health problems or disabilities”.

Interestingly, Goretti Horgan sees the problems based in the trajectory of economic development policies:

“…the whole concept of a ‘renewed Northern Ireland’ is based on a low-pay economy. People further up the social ladder have done well out of the peace – the gap between rich and poor is higher than in the rest of Britain, and is widening. The reality is that ordinary people are working for wages much lower than the rest of the UK. Invest Northern Ireland – the body that promotes investment here – even boasts on its website about wages being 25% less than the rest of Europe.”

Also worth browsing is the UK Chancellor’s Child Poverty Review for this year. It sets out targets to halve relative child poverty by 2010, and eradicate it by 2020.

There’s a fascinating graphic in the Annex, which demonstrates some startling facts. For instance, couples in work are less at risk of generating child poverty (13%) than their single parent equivalents (18%). But in workless households the figures reverse, so that single parents are only 48%, whilst couples are at a staggering 71% risk!

  • Alan

    These figuires seem very similar to today’s *NI BELOW AVERAGE INCOME STATISTICS* figures from the DSD ( available at

    http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/publications/displayitemSections.asp?ID=428 )

    For instance –

    * Families without children were less at risk of low incomes than those with children. Lone parent families were particularly at risk.

    – Individuals in Belfast and the west of the Province showed similar risk of being in low income. Those in the east of the Province showed the least risk.*

    and startlingly

    *Children living in NI were more likely to be in households lying in the bottom two quintiles of the income distribution*

  • Mick Fealty


    What do you make of the greater propensity of jobless couples to generate child poverty? If you go down a branch, the chances increase if they don’t have someone in the household with a disability, whilst it drops slightly if they have someone with a disability.

    Is the Chancellor’s target of poverty eradication (in relative terms) by 2020 realistic? If not, should we be thinking about using absolute (albeit temporary) rather than relative measures to eradicate child poverty?

  • Young Fogey

    Children living in NI were more likely to be in households lying in the bottom two quintiles of the income distribution

    Than what? I presume more likely than those in households in the upper three quintiles, which tells us that poorer families tend to be larger. Which we knew. Which is why the bulk of the government’s anti-poverty measures are aimed at families with children.

  • Alan

    I’m having some difficulty parsing your second question, Mick. I read it that disability is an indicator of a potential to be poor. I can understand why. Someone needs to cost the additional price of disability, whether physical or learning related.

    But the study has (frivolously,folks) discovered the cause of poverty.

    *Children living in families where the head was Protestant, Catholic or of another
    denomination were all likely to experience low-income, compared to those unwilling to
    answer who were at the top of the distribution.*