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Over 300,000 people living in absolute poverty in Northern Ireland

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The south Belfast food bank

The south Belfast food bank

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The south Belfast food bank

Over 300,000 people in Northern Ireland are living in absolute poverty, according to the latest figures from the Department for Communities.

The Northern Ireland Poverty Bulletin 2018/19 showed that 16% of individuals were now living in absolute poverty, compared to 14% in 2017/18, this was a deemed a "statistically significant increase".

Of those people living in absolute poverty 92,000 (21%) were children. This is an increase on 16% the previous year and was also deemed statistically significant.

Absolute poverty before housing costs is defined as people who have incomes below 60% of the UK (inflation adjusted) median income in 2010/11.

In 2018/19 the threshold was £294 per week before housing costs for a couple with no children. Therefore, a couple with no children that have a combined income below £294 per week would be considered to be living in absolute poverty.

Around 176,000 (16%) of working-age adults were also deemed to be living in absolute poverty, an increase on 13% the year before. Again this was deemed statistically significant.

With pensioners, 34,000 (12%) were considered to be living in absolute poverty, down from 14% in 2017/18.

The report marked the first time there was an increase in the number of individuals, children and working-age adults living in absolute poverty since 2013/14.

In comparison around 350,000 (19%) of people in Northern Ireland were considered to be living in relative poverty. This represented an increase from 16% the year before.

Around 107,000 (24%) of children were found to be living in relative poverty, an increase from 19% the year before.

Relative poverty before housing costs is defined as people who have incomes below 60% of the UK median.

In 2018/19 the threshold was £308 per week before housing costs for a couple with no children .

In 2018/19 around 201,000 (18%) of working-age adults were living in relative poverty in Northern Ireland, an increase from 15% the year before.

Around 43,000 (15%) pensioners were also living in relative poverty, the same as in 2017/18.

None of these findings were deemed statistically significant.

While all the statistics and figures listed above measure a time before the Covid-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland financial forecasts are set to get even worse with experts predicting a large economic downturn as a result of the virus.

The UK economy contracted at the fastest pace on record in March.

Writing in Thursday's Belfast Telegraph Dr Esmond Birnie, senior economist at Ulster University's Business School, said it could take several years for Northern Ireland's economy to return to 2019 levels.

Belfast Telegraph