MEAM welcomes new poverty measure for the UK

September 17, 2018

The Social Metrics Commission has today launched a new way to measure poverty in the UK.

The Commission was formed in 2016 and is made up of individuals from different political and professional backgrounds, alongside data and analytic experts and people with experience of supporting people living in poverty.

The need for the Commission’s work was clear – at present the UK does not have an official measure of poverty for children, adults or pensioners.

The new measure:

  • Takes account of all material resources, not just incomes. For instance, this means including an assessment of the available assets that families have;
  • Accounts for the inescapable costs that some families face, which make them more likely than others to experience poverty. These include, the extra costs of disability, and costs of childcare and rental and mortgage costs;
  • Broadens the approach of poverty measurement to include an assessment of housing adequacy. For example, by regarding those sleeping rough as being in poverty; and
  • Positions the measure of poverty within a wider measurement framework, which allows us to understand more about the nature of poverty in the UK.

Oliver Hilbery, Director of Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), said:

 “We welcome the new approach to measuring poverty set out in the Commission’s report. Measuring poverty effectively is essential if we are to improve the lives of those in poverty or help those who are in danger of being in it in the future.

“We know that poverty is a key driver of multiple disadvantage.  Many people living in poverty experience problems with housing, substance misuse, mental health and are in contact with the criminal justice system. This new measure gives us the best possible picture of poverty in the UK based on the data currently available, and we are particularly pleased that people formally recorded as sleeping rough will be included in it.

“We also welcome the Commission’s recommendation to build on this measure and do further work to explore how experiences of multiple disadvantage can be reflected better in national datasets. To have access to information like this is essential if we are to tackle multiple disadvantage in this country.

“The broad alliance of people involved in developing this new measure and the politically neutral nature of the Commission’s work is vital. Making Every Adult Matter wholeheartedly supports the call to see this new measurement of poverty adopted by government, all political parties, and wider organisations, so it can be used to shape future policy and hold decision-makers to account. Without this, a large group of society, and especially those facing multiple disadvantage, risk being left further behind without the support they so desperately need.”