Much of what needs to be achieved to reduce poverty needs to be set at a national level through tax and benefit policy.  However, local action can be taken to ensure that employers pay the London Living Wage, appropriate employment support is provided to help people find and stay in work, and schools and colleges provide high quality education to improve the life chances of all children and young people.  Through a combination of such efforts, it may be possible to reduce the risk of poverty and mitigate the effects of deprivation.

The independent Marmot Review into health inequalities prioritises a ‘whole child’ approach to address the wider social determinants of health (including education, housing and parental employment), in order to reduce the gap in health between children from deprived backgrounds and their better off peers. 1

A wide-ranging review of social issues relevant to poverty, commissioned in 2014 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, highlighted a number of evidence-based approaches to tackling poverty, as summarised in Box 3. 2

Box 3: Evidence-based approaches to tackling poverty in the UK

Listed below is a selection of relevant findings of evidence reviews commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2014, including recommended actions at national and local level3

The ‘bigger picture’

  • Devolution and poverty – there is a strong case for further devolution in relation to Housing Benefits and labour market programmes.
  • Regeneration and poverty – effective approaches include place-based interventions to tackle worklessness and improve housing, the environment and reduce crime. In relation to jobs, more could be achieved by creating jobs that match the skills and experience of people living in deprived areas and linking them up to local employment and training schemes.
  • Wellbeing and poverty – anti-poverty strategies could be strengthened by complementing interventions to increase the income of people in poverty, such as conditional cash transfers, with individual and community-level initiatives aimed at promoting the wider components of people’s wellbeing (e.g. mental health, education and self-esteem). These initiatives would allow anti-poverty strategies to improve people’s chances of inclusion in society and the labour market and, ultimately, reduce the occurrence of poverty.

Welfare and work

  • Benefits take-up – improving the take-up of means tested benefits by those in and out of work would contribute to poverty reduction, by increasing the level of knowledge about entitlements and eligibility as well as reducing stigma. These are most effectively implemented at a local level.
  • Employment and pay – rises in the National Living/Minimum Wage boost household incomes for low earning households, while active labour market programmes that include job search services and sanctions or employer incentives (e.g. wage subsidies) have the best employment outcomes.
  • Means-testing or universalism and poverty – means-testing can create stigma, complexity and work disincentives, while universal support can spread resources too thinly. An effective anti-poverty strategy requires a mix of both.

Education, personal relationships and community

  • Early childhood education and care – the provision of good-quality, affordable and accessible early childhood education and care promotes young children’s intellectual development, leading to better educational outcomes and life chances. It may also allow parents to work.
  • Advice and support services – embedding advice services in community settings and pro-active outreach is needed to ensure the most disadvantaged are able to access help.

Complex needs

  • Many people in poverty have additional, multiple support needs (e.g. mental or physical health problems) or other sources of social marginalisation (such as offenders or victims of crime, economic migrants) that need to be addressed.

References

  1. The Marmot Review, “‘Fair Society Healthy Lives’ (The Marmot Review),” 2010
  2. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Reducing Poverty in the UK: a collection of evidence reviews,” 2014.
  3. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Reducing Poverty in the UK: a collection of evidence reviews,” 2014.