IGN learnings

Co-designing poverty data and metrics

Centre for Progressive Policy Rosie Fogden square

Rosie Fogden

Head of Research & Analysis at the Centre for Progressive Policy

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Poverty and poor health are closely interrelated and act as barriers to inclusive growth. Tackling poverty should therefore be a priority for newly established Integrated Care Boards and their local partners. Strategic and operational data have been identified as key enablers of change in local health and care systems.

The King’s Fund and the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) are working together to explore how places can bring together local economic and health leavers to best address the causes and consequences of poverty. Following their workshop on tackling poverty, they brought together practitioners from NHS and local/regional government settings to co-design useful operational data and metrics for places focusing on poverty.

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.





Relative and absolute low income

Material deprivation

Food security

DWP Households Below Average Income



Children in low-income households

DWP Children in Low Income Families


Local authority, ward, MSOA

Households below the Minimum Income Standard

JRF Households below the Minimum Income Standard



Index of Multiple Deprivation

DLUHC English Indices of Deprivation

4-5 years

LEP, CCG, local authority, LSOA

People on Universal Credit

DWP Official Statistics for people on Universal Credit


Region, local authority, ward, MSOA, LSOA

Financial vulnerability

Lowell and Urban Institute Financial Vulnerability Index


Region, constituency

Examples of using evidence to understand poverty

The Children's Hospital Alliance

Missing appointments is one of the top 10 causes of avoidable child death and children in the most deprived decile are more than twice as likely not to attend appointments due to the cost of transport, and the affordability of their parents taking time off work to attend. To tackle this, the Children’s Hospital Alliance designed a tool to identify those at risk of non-attendance so that they can be contacted and supported to attend. This is a really great example of hospitals working together and getting data sharing agreements in place to use individual level data to refer cases for further support. Learn more here.

Poverty Truth Commissions

Attendees reiterated the importance of nuance and qualitative narrative and were keen that this is not overwritten or ignored amid the data. Alongside data, peoples’ lived experiences should also inform policy and service delivery. North of Tyne is the first Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) to run a Poverty Truth Commission, which works to understand the features of poverty within an area and come up with practical solutions for policy change. They are one example of how public organisations can co-produce and co-design strategies and can help to identify which metrics to track and to test service design.