Sun, 04 Jun 2023

A publication entitled "The Northern Ireland Poverty and Income Inequality report (2021/22)" was published today by the Department for Communities.

The Poverty and Income Inequality report will be produced annually by the Department for Communities and contains statistics on income, income inequality and poverty.

This publication combines information that was previously published in the NI Poverty Bulletin and NI Households Below Average Income report. It provides estimates of the proportion and number of individuals, children, working age adults and pensioners living in poverty, and other statistics relating to household income and income inequality.

The publication uses data from the Family Resources Survey, which is based on an annual sample of approximately 2,000 households. Due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, only 700 households were interviewed in 2020/21, recovering to 1,700 households in 2021/22. As such, only figures relating to the whole population were published for 2020/21, with full reporting restored for 2021/22.

Key findings of the report are summarised below. None of the annual changes presented in the report are statistically significant. Caution should be exercised when interpreting year-on-year fluctuations, with longer term trends often giving a clearer picture.


Whole population - Poverty (Before Housing Costs):


  • In 2021/22, 16% of individuals (approx. 300,000 people) were estimated to be living in relative poverty; compared to 17% in 2020/21. The percentage of individuals in absolute poverty in 2021/22 stood at 13% (approx. 249,000 people); compared to 12% in 2020/21.


  • Over the last decade, relative poverty has shown a general downward trend, falling from a high of 22% in 2014/15. Over the same period, absolute poverty has fallen by 10 percentage points, from a high of 23% in 2011/12.


Children - Poverty (Before Housing Costs):


  • The long-term trend shows that children have a higher risk of living in poverty than the other population groups (all individuals, working-age adults and pensioners).


  • The percentage of children living in relative poverty in 2021/22 was 18%; compared to 22% in 2019/20. Children living in absolute poverty fell from 17% to 15% over the same period.


Working-age adults - Poverty (Before Housing Costs):


  • In 2021/22 the proportion of working age adults in relative poverty was 14%; the same as in 2019/20. The absolute poverty rate for working age adults changed from 11% in 2019/20 to 12% in 2021/22.  


  • The risk of being in relative poverty is much higher for households where no one is in work (53%); compared to households where at least one adult is in work (8%).  However, because there are a greater number of working households in general, it is estimated that of all working age adults living in poverty, over half (53%) live in a working household.


Pensioners - Poverty (After Housing Costs):


  • In 2021/22 the proportion of pensioners in relative poverty was 16%; compared to 13% in 2019/20. Over the same period, absolute poverty for pensioners increased from 10% to 12%.


  • Over the last decade, the proportion of pensioners in relative poverty has fluctuated from a high of 16% (in 2013/14 and 2021/22) to a low of 10% in 2018/19. Over the same period, absolute poverty has shown a downward trend, from a high of 17% in 2013/14.


Food Poverty


  • In 2021/22 most individuals lived in households that are food secure (96%), with 4% (approximately 74,000 individuals) in households said to be food insecure.


Income (Before Housing Costs):


  • In 2021/22 the median household income in NI was Pound 555 per week or Pound 28,939 per year, representing a 1% increase from the previous year. 


  • In 2021/22 households in the top 20% of the income distribution had a weekly income 3.4 times higher than households in the bottom 20%.


  • The majority of household income in NI is made up of Earnings (72%) and State Support (16%). This varies significantly depending on level of income, with households in the bottom income quintile deriving 35% of their income from earnings and 54% from state support.

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