Income and Poverty

Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland 2016

Commissioned by: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

  • Published 15th Mar 2016
  • Authors: Adam Tinson,
  • Category: Income and Poverty

This Findings from the New Policy Institute brings together the latest data to show the extent and nature of poverty in Northern Ireland. It focuses on the links between poverty, work, and education.

Key points

• Twenty per cent of people in Northern Ireland (NI) were in poverty after housing costs on average in the two years to 2013/14. This is around the same as Great Britain and a little higher than before the recession.

• The composition of those in poverty in Northern Ireland has changed over the last five years. There are more working-age adults, particularly young people, more private renters and fewer pensioners in poverty.

• Northern Ireland has not experienced the same strong employment performance as Great Britain, only now reaching pre-recession levels. Since 2011, the working-age employment rate has increased by 0.6 percentage points, compared with a 3.0 percentage point increase in GB.

• The overall employment rate in NI is five percentage points lower than in GB. For some groups, the gap is much wider – 15 percentage points lower for disabled people in NI compared with GB, 12 each for lone parents and 16-24 year olds.

• Average weekly pay is lower in Northern Ireland than a decade ago (after inflation). The gap with GB has remained steady at the median, but low-paid workers have fallen further behind those in GB.

• Around 60 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls eligible for free school meals do not get five good GCSEs, compared with 30 per cent and 20 per cent of those not eligible. Pupils receiving free school meals do less well than other pupils in non-grammar schools and slightly less well in grammar schools.

• As well as taking account of the changing poverty landscape in Northern Ireland, the Executive needs to ensure there are appropriate monitoring mechanisms, for example to assess the success of policies to mitigate the impacts of welfare reform.