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Poverty in Northern Ireland 2018

In 2005, research, undertaken by Simon Community NI found that most of us were four pay cheques away from homelessness; in 2015 this had reduced to just two pay cheques. With bad debt, rent arrears and mortgage repossessions on the rise, more people than ever before are at risk of becoming homeless due to poverty.

As part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation monitoring of changes to poverty rates across the UK, on 20th February 2018 JRF released its Poverty in Northern Ireland Briefing. The Briefing shows that 370,000 people in Northern Ireland are living in poverty. This figure consists of 110,000 children, 220,000 working-age adults and 40,000 pensioners.

The key findings are as follows:

  • Poverty in Northern Ireland is higher than in Scotland, but is slightly lower than in England or Wales.
  • Poverty among pensioners has fallen considerably over the last decade. Families with children have seen steady or falling poverty rates, but working-age adults without children are now at higher risk of poverty than ten years ago.
  • Northern Ireland has higher worklessness and lower employment than elsewhere in the UK, and the proportion of people in poverty in workless households has increased slightly over time, in contrast with the UK as a whole.
  • This suggests that the employment rate continues to be a major factor affecting poverty rates in Northern Ireland, and that raising the employment rate could lead to falls in poverty.
  • The gap in educational attainment among richer and poorer children has narrowed slightly but remains very large.
  • There are more people with no qualifications and fewer people with higher-level qualifications in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK.
  • One in ten households in the poorest fifth in Northern Ireland faces problem debt.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people in the poorest fifth are not paying into a pension, increasing their risk of future poverty.

To download the full Poverty in Northern Ireland Briefing 2018 Click Here


Barnard, H. (2018) Poverty in Northern Ireland 2018. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Retrieved from