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Poverty in Northern Ireland 2018

This briefing examines trends in poverty and related issues in Northern Ireland, and compares these to the situation both in the UK as a whole and in England, Wales and Scotland.

Written by:
Helen Barnard
Date published:

The latest data shows that 370,000 people in Northern Ireland live in poverty.

This figure consists of 110,000 children, 220,000 working-age adults and 40,000 pensioners. This briefing accompanies UK Poverty 2017, which looked at trends in poverty in the UK as a whole.

Key points:

  • Poverty in Northern Ireland is slightly lower than in England or Wales, but it is higher than in Scotland.
  • Poverty among pensioners has fallen considerably over the last decade. Families with children have seen steady or falling poverty rates, but working-age adults without children are now at higher risk of poverty than ten years ago.
  • Northern Ireland has higher worklessness and lower employment than elsewhere, and the proportion of people in poverty in workless households has increased slightly over time, in contrast with the UK as a whole.
  • This suggests that the employment rate continues to be a major factor affecting poverty rates in Northern Ireland, and that raising the employment rate could lead to falls in poverty.
  • The gap in educational attainment among richer and poorer children has narrowed slightly but remains very large.
  • There are more people with no qualifications and fewer people with higher-level qualifications in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK.
  • One in ten households in the poorest fifth in Northern Ireland faces problem debt.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people in the poorest fifth are not paying into a pension, increasing their risk of future poverty.