Poverty can be difficult to define and equally difficult to measure. When defining poverty, there is a distinction between absolute poverty and relative poverty. The former generally refers to when individuals or households do not have enough financial resources to meet basic needs, such as food, water and shelter. Whereas, relative poverty refers to when individuals or households do not have enough financial resources to meet the ‘normal’ standard of living in the society in which they live.

Poverty can be defined objectively and applied consistently only in terms of the concept of relative deprivation. The term is understood objectively rather than subjectively. Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged or approved in the society to which they belong. Their resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are in effect excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities.

(Peter Townsend, Poverty in the UK, 1979, p.31)

When a person’s resources (mainly their material resources) are not sufficient to meet their minimum needs (including social participation).

Goulden, C and D’Arcy, C. (2014), A Definition of Poverty.

Poverty is when your resources are well below your minimum needs. Poverty means not being able to heat your home, pay your rent, or buy the essentials for your children. It means waking up every day facing insecurity, uncertainty, and impossible decisions about money. It means facing marginalisation – and even discrimination – because of your financial circumstances. The constant stress it causes can lead to problems that deprive people of the chance to play a full part in society.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, https://www.jrf.org.uk/about-us/what-is-poverty