Belfast Telegraph

One in six living below poverty line is damning indictment of Stormont’s failure, says MLA

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon
SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Nearly 300,000 people here are living below the poverty line.

That is around one in six of the population, according to a new report.

The total includes around 85,000 children.

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said the poverty rate was "a damning indictment of political failure".

The figures are detailed in a report, The Northern Ireland Poverty Bulletin 2017/18, which was published yesterday by the Department for Communities.

The annual bulletin contains statistics on income and poverty for various population groups.

An individual is considered to be in relative poverty if they are living in a household with an income below 60% of the UK median. In 2017/18 the threshold was £304 per week before housing costs for a couple with no children.

Among the report's key findings are:

16% of individuals were in poverty, approximately 292,000 individuals - 2% lower than the 2016/17 estimate.

19% of children were in poverty, approximately 85,000 children (down 3%).

15% of working-age adults were in poverty, approximately 162,000 working-age adults (down 1%).

15% of pensioners were in poverty, approximately 45,000 pensioners (down 4%).

The report also measures those in absolute poverty. In 2017/18 the absolute poverty threshold for a couple with no children was an income of £288 per week before housing costs.

Some 14% of individuals were in absolute poverty, representing around 249,000 individuals - this includes 16% of children (49,000).

North Belfast Assembywoman Ms Mallon said politicians needed to get back to Stormont to address the crisis.

"It is a disgrace that elected representatives committed to tackling poverty have no meaningful avenue to do so while the DUP and Sinn Fein continue to prioritise their standoff," she said.

She warned that the implementation of welfare reform and other developments meant these figures would increase. "All the Press statements and election stunts in the world can't hide the truth - that it will be impossible to tackle poverty without a functioning Executive and Assembly," she added.

"Rather than putting all of their energy into blaming each other for the political shambles we're in, the DUP and Sinn Fein should sit down, sort their differences and put the needs of vulnerable, low-income and working families first."

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