addressing poverty & deprivation in mid-ulster

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Mid ulster district council poverty INITIATIVE

Mid-Ulster District Council (MUDC) have asked McGarry Consulting to design a Poverty Initiative for them. This is believed to be the first such programme of its kind in NI and will cover a 3-year period 2017-2020. Poverty affects at least 1 in 6 people in NI, and as such we’d welcome your thoughts and ideas on how this can be better addressed. For our part, we will keep you updated and highlight the main findings to date. This is a live web-page that will be updated regularly.



Get involved in tackling poverty and take one minute to let us know your thoughts:

Which groups, if any, should a poverty initiative target most?
Please tick up to four boxes:
Which programmes, if any, should a poverty programme support most?
Please tick up to five boxes:
Please list any organisations or projects that you know are doing great work in tackling poverty in the MUDC area:
Please list any other thoughts or ideas you have on the creation of a poverty initiative within MUDC:

Further Information & Feedback

For more information please contact Liam McGarry via or on 028 90517007. 



Creating a poverty initiative involves six stages as follows:

  1. Our first step is to define poverty and deprivation, for which we used official NI Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) guidance. More information below
  2. Examine all the research into poverty, to determine the poverty and deprivation levels within MUDC, and how this compares to NI as a whole. This will be summarised in a presentation and posted online
  3. Meet with local community groups and charities who tackle poverty and deprivation within the MUDC area. We will also issue a survey (above) and speak to statutory agencies. This will help us better understand what is happening on the ground and within the wider public sector
  4. Develop a draft poverty programme and discuss it with Council/Councillors. Then we will seek public feedback via a public information session and by publishing draft online
  5. Discuss with statutory agencies, Council and community groups how the programme can best be delivered, funded and what the next steps should be
  6. Publish final report/presentation and issue to Council. Update public via this website


Defining Poverty

Within the UK & Ireland, poverty is most often defined in terms of income. In very simple terms, if a person earns less than 60% of the national average income, they are considered to be in relative poverty.


  • The median wage, is used as the average rather than the mean as this is less skewed by a few people earning massive wages
  • Income is considered after tax and either before housing costs or after housing costs to reflect disposable income
  • Income is measured in relative and absolute terms. Relative is related to 60% median wage in the year measured. Whilst Absolute is measured against 60% median wage in a given year (e.g. 2011) adjusted for inflation. Absolute is used by statisticians to compare poverty trends over time.
  • Income is indexed to allow for different household circumstances. For example, a single person, a couple, a single parent and family (2 adults, 2 children) given the same amount will experience life differently.
  • Poverty rates are categorised across four themes – the whole population, children, working age adults and pensioners. The NI Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) state that poverty is measured only at the NI level.


Deprivation is defined by the NI Multiple Deprivation Measure (NI MDM), of which the most recent report was published in November 2017. For statistical purposes, NI is divided into 890 areas called Super Output Areas (SOAs). These comprise approximately 2,000 people and are slightly smaller than an electoral ward.

The NI MDM, or Noble Indicators after their original creator, measures deprivation across seven domains (e.g. Income, Employment, Education etc). A weighted average is then taken to provide one single MDM for each SOA. These are then ranked from 1-890, with 1 being the most deprived area (SOA) in NI, and 890 the least deprived SOA in NI. This allows public bodies to prioritise resources on the most deprived areas.


  • Within each SOA there can be wide variation in income, education, health etc. Therefore, because an area is considered less deprived does not necessarily mean that everyone in that area is less deprived.


The Census, last completed in 2011, is the most comprehensive survey available. This can show changing demographics, number of people living alone, levels of good health, caring responsibilities and access to car. We have summarised key census information at SOA level for ease of comparison and understanding.


Other organisations, in particular the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, publish research and information on poverty. This is often based on a combination of public available data and their own extensive research (e.g. focus groups, consultation with community groups on the ground). 



There is extensive research into poverty, deprivation, inequality, well-being and social exclusion. Rather than provide an exhaustive list, we've summarised what we believe are the five most recent, relevant and readable sources below:


Key Determinants of Happiness & Misery (Jun 2017)

The 'Origins of Happiness' is a new book out exploring life satisfaction and happiness. It examines what makes people happy? What makes people feel less miserable? and pound for pound, what is the most effective tool to make people feel better. In the summary reports below (the second is more technical with more evidence), the authors explain why it is more important to focus on well-being rather than wealth creation: 


NI Deprivation Measure - NISRA NIMDM (Nov 2017)

Deprivation is loosely defined as the absence of something considered a necessity. NISRA (see above) provides a NI wide deprivation report every 5-7 years with the most recent, 2017, outlined below. They provide maps, reports, tables and summaries via the link below:


NI Poverty Measure - HBAI Income 2015/16 (Aug17)

This is considered the most official guide to poverty in NI. It shows how poverty (income before and after housing costs) impacts people (e.g. families, single people, etc) differently, whether it is rising or falling and impact on inequality. The report uses visuals and plain english to help explain trends and key points: 


Poverty in NI (2018) 

The JRF is an authority on poverty in the UK and published a summary of poverty in NI. It looked at various sources of information and was able to compare the situation in NI with England, Scotland and Wales. The report provides a useful overview, identifies trends and highlights potential issues. It does not necessarily reflect the latest 2017 published information but is a great starting point to learn more about poverty in NI: 


Poverty & Low Pay in the UK (Mar 2018)

The Institute for Fiscal Studies publishes a variety of economic reports, with a recent one being on poverty in the UK. In addition to its timeliness, it highlights the rise in poverty and challenges faced by those in low paid work. This shows how poverty can affect a wide range of people and how difficult it can be to escape it. The report reinforces information elsewhere that employment in itself is not a solution to poverty:


This page will be updated regularly. Thank you for reading and please share, and come back.