One in five living in poverty, charity reveals
One in five people in Northern Ireland is living in poverty, a development charity said.
The economy has fallen behind the rest of the UK, with significantly lower employment and pay levels hindering attempts to help the most needy, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
It said 360,000 were below the breadline.
Helen Barnard, head of analysis at JRF, said: "Poverty is a problem that can be solved, but the foundations to reduce poverty in Northern Ireland - more jobs and good levels of pay - appear to be much weaker in comparison to the rest of the UK.
"To ensure work provides a route out of poverty and improves the life chances of the next generation, we need the next administration to adopt a comprehensive plan to address poverty for all ages, so people in Northern Ireland can play their part in a prosperous, poverty-free society."
The report on priorities after the May elections said Northern Ireland has not experienced the same strong employment performance as Great Britain (GB), only now reaching pre-recession levels.
Other findings included:
:: Average pay at the bottom and in the middle is lower than a decade ago by around £20 a week.
:: The employment rate for disabled people in Northern Ireland is 15% lower than it is in Great Britain, while young people and lone parents are also less likely to be employed.
:: Young people from low income backgrounds face worse prospects than their peers, with poorer GCSE results.
The charity recommended developing industrial strategies with business for low-paid sectors in retail, hospitality and care to increase pay and productivity.
Ministers should establish an Apprenticeships Charter to drive up quality. The childcare system should be reformed to provide higher quality.
Job and training opportunities should be created for those furthest from the labour market using public sector procurement.