Sunday, 30 August 2015

Poverty definition should include housing

A leading think tank has called on the government to adopt a much broader definition of poverty that includes factors such as housing.

Demos is today launching a new model for assessing poverty based on an 18-month research project, Poverty in perspective. This was supported by the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation and Natcen Social Research and analysed data from a survey of 40,000 households.

The model consists of 20 indicators including heating, neighbourhood deprivation, neighbourhood support, household composition, tenure, and overcrowding.

The researchers applied this model to low-income households to gain a better understanding of the factors driving child poverty, resulting in five social groups. These ranged from homeowners who have been made redundant or are in low-paid jobs, to young single mothers who are unemployed and struggling to manage bills.

The report says these different groups ‘illustrate that unique combinations of problems are faced by different types of families across Britain’.

‘A greater understanding of this can help policy-makers better integrate relevant services, such as social housing, adult education and social care to develop bespoke combinations to address the difficulties faced by each group,’ it states.

Claudia Wood, deputy director of Demos and co-author of the report, said: ‘The first step in tackling poverty is understanding it properly. Gone are the days when we could talk about families in poverty as a homogeneous group that can be helped with a one size fits all solution.’

‘This research is a real breakthrough that lays out a clear template to help local authorities understand poverty at a household level and get to grips with the unique combination of problems that families are facing every day in their area.’

The government recently launched a consultation on measuring child poverty, which looks to expand beyond the previous income-related criteria.

Earlier this week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published its 15th annual Monitoring poverty and social exclusion report. In a blog to accompany the publication one of the authors, Hannah Aldridge, argues housing issues are becoming central to work to combat poverty, particularly as more households move into the private rented sector.

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