Existing poverty metrics
Measuring poverty is not an exact science, and as a result limited data is available at local level. What is available is not updated frequently. Participants shared lots of examples of systems trying to join the dots on the data, but none claimed to have solved the problem or identified a single data point to identify poverty. This is especially the case post-pandemic, and in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, as the scale and nature of poverty in places is changing.
The best publicly available information at local level are the annual statistics on children in low-income families, which combine a number of sources including national survey and benefit claimant data. This may reflect a different relationship between the state and households, the universal parent, or may reflect the more holistic and anticipatory nature of health services in this field.
Universal Credit data is updated more frequently but isn’t a measure of poverty per se and does not capture those outside the system who are not claiming benefits. Local authority level maps comparing the latest data on child poverty and Universal Credit claimants with the English Indices of Deprivation are available on CPP’s website. There are some examples of where researchers have used consumer spending and credit data to build more timely local profiles but this data is often not publicly available.
Accessing individual or household data felt important for mapping out the new shape of poverty and for taking mitigating actions in some settings, yet this was often the gap, particularly at combined authority and integrated care board level.