A household is defined as having a low income (‘poverty’ for short) if its income is less than 60% of the median UK household income for the year in question.

The Public Health Agency is working in partnership with the public, private, community, voluntary and academic sectors to research, evaluate and deliver a range of local and regional initiatives to alleviate fuel and food poverty and maximise incomes for those living in poverty.

  • Both poverty and economic inequality are bad for health.
  • Persistent poverty in Northern Ireland (21% before housing costs) is double that in Great Britain (GB) (9%).
  • In January 2010, 43,000 children in Northern Ireland were living in severe poverty.
  • There are four main reasons for higher persistent poverty in Northern Ireland: high levels of unemployment, high rates of disability and limiting long-term illness, low wages, poor quality part-time jobs and obstacles to working mothers.

Poverty is an important risk factor for illness and premature death. It affects health directly and indirectly in many ways, for example:

  • financial strain;
  • poorer housing, living environments and diet;
  • limited access to employment, services and opportunities.

Poor health can also cause poverty. In Northern Ireland, research on poverty carried out in 2006 found that 20% of the population was living in relative income poverty (where the household income is less than 60% of the median UK household income for the year in question) over the period 2002/03–2004/05.