There is no single way to measure poverty, and there are pros and cons for different measurement. However, there are official measurements used by the Northern Ireland departments that are important to understand.
People are considered to be living in relative income poverty if the income of their household is less than 60% of the UK median household income.
People are considered to be living in absolute income poverty, if the income of their household is less than 60% of the UK median income in 2010/11, uprated by inflation.
Another way to measure poverty is by looking at duration of living in poverty. A household is defined as being in persistent poverty if it is below the poverty line in any three of the past four years.
There are additional measures that are used to look at different indicators of poverty:
Sometimes relative poverty is looked at after housing costs due to the massive increase in rents and mortgages, this gives a better picture of how much money households actually have to spend.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation uses the term destitution defined as ‘an enforced lack of the following minimum material necessities: shelter, food, heating, lighting, clothing and basic toiletries or [has] an income level so low that they are unable to provide these minimum material necessities for themselves’.
People are considered destitute if they have lacked two or more of the following six essentials over the past month because they cannot afford them (or had to rely on charity to access them):
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
- Shelter (they have slept rough for one or more nights).
- Food (they have been unable to eat more than one meal a day for two or more days).
- Heating their home (they have been unable to heat their home for five or more days).
- Lighting their home (they have been unable to light their home for five or more days).
- Clothing and footwear (appropriate for the weather).
- Basic toiletries (such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush).