Monitoring poverty and social exclusion: Labour's inheritance

Catherine Howarth, Peter Kenway, Guy Palmer and Cathy Street

The Government is committed to improving conditions for those in poverty, setting up a special unit to tackle social exclusion. But how will it track the effect of its policies on the least advantaged? And how will independence be assured?

Official reports and statistics regularly monitor economic objectives such as curbing inflation.

This study shows for the first time that it is also feasible to report regularly on poverty and exclusion. With the help of clear graphs, the report presents 46 indicators of the level of poverty and social exclusion at the time when the present Government came to power. As well as providing a snapshot of the numbers affected in the late 1990s, it shows how things have changed in recent years. Collectively, the indicators cover a wide range of difficulties faced by people of all ages, from the 200,000 19-year-olds who lack basic qualifications to the 5 million pensioners who are afraid to go out alone at night.

All are drawn from regularly updated sources, making it possible to monitor annually their progress from this baseline and providing a valuable reference for anyone concerned about poverty and related social problems.