What is evidence?
A strong, well-structured evidence-based approach allows you to
do four critical things:
- "What do we need to know?" - Clearly
identify the major challenges and priorities that face you locally
in terms of child poverty.
- "What works?"- Determine the most
appropriate policy and intervention response to address your key
child poverty priorities and achieve your
- "Are we measuring what we
need to or just what we can?" - Make sure that the
indicators used are the most accurate measure of success against
your desired outcome
- "What difference are we
making" - Track, over time, the impact you are
having against your child poverty outcomes.
The Cabinet Office Strategic Policy Team, defines evidence as
being drawn from the following sources: It is important to
recognise that this list involves a range of both qualitative and
- Expert knowledge - For example,
specialist analytical officers, statisticians, public health
practitioners and professional staff in associated
- Published research - A wide range of
social policy research, for example studies carried out by the
Joseph Rowntree Foundation and other social policy think tanks and
research organisations, such as the Young Foundation.
- Existing statistics - National datasets,
such as Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics, the wide range of
statistical information published by the Scottish Government and
the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.
- Stakeholder consultations - Local
research studies, both qualitative and quantitative can play a
critical role in developing understanding of poverty and
deprivation in an area.
- Previous policy evaluations -
Evaluations can be very useful sources of evidence with regard to
the practical application of previous approaches.
- Costing of policy options - An analysis
of the cost benefit and/or value for money of
- Outputs from economic and statistical
modelling - These approaches tend to be undertaken
at a national as opposed to local level.
Measuring different types of poverty
How are different types of poverty measured?
Poverty is a complex and multi faceted issue. In order to help
break it down the following descriptions can be used to help take
account of the fact that children can experience poverty in a range
of different ways.
Relative child poverty
Low income means that people struggle to participate in
'ordinary' economic, social and cultural activities. What this
means will vary from country to country, depending on the standard
of living enjoyed by the majority. In Scotland relative child
poverty is determined as those living in families that earn less
than 60% of the national average. While not as extreme as absolute
poverty, relative poverty is still serious and harmful.
Absolute child poverty
This is when children and their families lack the basic
necessities for survival. For instance they may be starving, lack
clean water, proper housing, sufficient clothing or medicines.
There is debate in some areas around whether absolute poverty
exists in the UK. In Scotland
absolute poverty is deemed as living in a family that earns less
than 60% of what the average wage was in 1998/99. This determines
whether those who are on the lowest income have seen a rise in what
they take home in real terms over the last ten years.
The working poor are those individuals and families who
maintain regular employment but remain in relative poverty due to
low levels of pay and dependent expenses. This group contains
non-working household members such as children and
Combined low income and material deprivation
Material deprivation' reflects whether children live in
families which can afford to buy certain items and participate in
leisure or social activities. This measure is applied to households
with incomes below seventy per cent of average income to create the
'material deprivation and low income combined' indicator. This
indicator aims to provide a measure of living standards which,
unlike relative and absolute poverty, is not solely based
This is defined as being in relative poverty in three out
of the last four consecutive years. This measure is designed to
detect children and their families who are consistently in poverty
over a long period, rather than those which dip in and out
The threshold income levels for defining poverty are updated
annually. In 2009/10 the relative poverty threshold for a couple
with no children was a total income of £248 per week (Before
Housing Costs). In 2009/10 the absolute poverty threshold for a
couple with no children was a total income of £209 per week (Before
Key indicators and measures
Key indicators and measures of child poverty
Throughout the UK, children are
considered to be living in poverty if they live in a household with
an income that is below 60% of the national UK median income (adjusted for size and
composition). Poverty in Scotland is defined in relation to what is
typical in the UK - UK threshold income levels are used to
estimate poverty in Scotland Official poverty figures are
estimates, based on robust analysis of an established UK-wide survey, the Family
Although household income has a central role in defining child
poverty in Scotland, it is important to acknowledge what a lack of
income represents as equally as important in terms of health,
housing, access to services, mental wellbeing and life chances.
Much of the local work that is going on to tackle child poverty
often focuses on reducing the impact of child poverty through
direct provision of key services such as free school meals, access
to leisure, educational support through schools, social protection
There are a wide range of indicators and proxy indicators
available to measure child poverty. Local areas have the discretion
to be able to chose the indicators which are most relevant to their
local priorities and outcomes. However, it is important to choose
indicators which not only reflect child poverty in terms of income
but give a fuller picture through indicators concerned with wider
deprivation and well being. Outcome indicators are long terms
measures. It is important to have a range of short term and medium
term milestones to demonstrate progress and that you are on the
On the top right hand corner of this page you can
access some essential tools for determining which measures and
indicators are best for you.
Other sources of information
What other sources of information are available?
Statistics (SNS) - datazone
Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics is the Scottish Government's
on-going programme to improve the availability, consistency and
accessibility of small area statistics in Scotland. It includes
information on health, education, poverty, unemployment, housing,
population, crime and social / community issues at the data zone
level and above.
Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) - datazone
The SIMD provides a wealth
of information to help improve the understanding about the outcomes
and circumstances of people living in the most deprived areas
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Toolkit - some indicators not available for Scottish
CESI have produced an up-to-date
and interactive resource that uses a combination of charts, tables
and text to describe and analyse child poverty at a local level,
and how it has changed in recent years.
Community Health Profiles - Health Board,
Community Health Partnership, Local Authority and intermediate
small area level.
These profiles highlight the considerable variation in health
between areas and help identify priorities for health improvement,
along with complementary profiles focussing on children and young
people. The profiles give a snapshot overview of health for each
area using spine charts (which show how the area compares to the
Scottish average), and allow further understanding of the results
via rank and trend charts.
Qualitative Information - the stories and perspectives of young
people and families experiencing poverty
The Poverty Truth Commission has been a two year project bringing
together some of Scotland's civic leaders with people at the sharp
end of poverty. They have worked together to discover the truths
about poverty, and explore real solutions to it. They have also
Scottish Commissioner for
Children and Young People (SCCYP)
The SCCYP promotes awareness
and understanding of the rights of children and young people. In
particular they must promote and commission research on matters
relating to the rights of children and young people and involve
them in decisions around how we improve their rights and
Scottish Government Analytical Pages
The income and poverty statistics web pages provides information
about income and poverty statistics for Scotland. It includes the
latest publications, a broad range of Family Resources Survey based
analyses relating to income and low income in Scotland as well as
performance against UK child
Reducing levels of child poverty and alleviating its impacts are
reflected throughout the National Performance Framework. All of our
national Purpose targets, outcomes and indicators are reported on
annually in Scotland Performs'
Department of Work
DWP publish a range of statistics
that provide information about DWP's
client groups, benefits, employment programmes, estimates of
households living in poverty and other areas that the Department is
The Office for National Statistics produces independent
information to improve our understanding of the UK's economy and society.
This site monitors what is happening to poverty and social
exclusion in the UK and has
material organised around 100 statistical indicators covering all
aspects of the subject, from income and work to health
Public Health Observatory
Along with summary data and statistics, they aim to provide
background information, interpretation, policy notes, commentaries
on data sources, references and links to further information for a
wide range of topics relating to the health of the
Statistics Division of NHS National Services Scotland.
There are a number of general public health and health improvement
measures which help to measure progress in tackling poverty,
ranging from rates of smoking, drug misuse and alcohol consumption
to data on sexual health outcomes.
Creating a poverty profile
A poverty profile is most commonly understood to be a
description of the character of poverty among a population, often
using qualitative and quantitative information to describe overall
rates and traits of poverty. Poverty profiling can be a useful tool
as poverty affects different communities in different ways. They
are most effective when the indicators are robust, the whole
community of interest is involved in producing them and when it is
more than just a collection of figures describing poverty.
Poverty profiles should:
- Clearly identify the community of interest
- Clearly identify and involve all stakeholders
- Specify any sub-themes that are of particular interest, e.g.
- Systematically identify and gather information
Poverty profiles should aspire to:
- Present a comprehensive account of the nature
- Accurately and comprehensively report the extent
- Identify the most intensive poverty within the community
- Use indicators that are fit-for-purpose
- Describe the UK and
Scottish policy context and specifically discuss the relevance of
this to the community of interest
- Appraise the Community Planning Partnership policy context (or
community of interest)
- Present an action plan or recommendations for
- Identify trends, as well as profiling
- Compare the extent of poverty beyond the community
- Be of value - an implementation, communication and
dissemination strategy should be an integral part of
Different areas have different challenges to face in
tackling child poverty.
- Can you describe how child poverty in your area is similar /
differs to child poverty (i) in Scotland as a whole; (ii) in other
areas that are similar to yours?
- Can you identify any localities within your area in which child
poverty is a particular problem? What makes that
- What are the trends? Is your area improving or declining over
time? What factors can be attributed to this?
Effective intelligence often involves challenging
people's existing perceptions. It can be useful to provide evidence
that forces other to rethink their understanding of
Research by the University of St
Andrews has shown that there are four requirements for improving
evidence use in policy and practice. In the context of tackling
child poverty through Community Planning Partnerships and the
outcomes approach these requirements are:
- Agreement, between Community Planning partners and with wider
stakeholders, as to what counts as evidence and in what
circumstances, and critically a common understanding of what the
evidence is "telling them".
- A strategic approach to the development of an evidence base
with a systematic effort to accumulate evidence that is strong,
relevant and up to date.
- Effective dissemination of evidence across the CPP and to wider stakeholders to where it
is most needed and the development of effective means of providing
wide access to knowledge.
- Initiatives to ensure the integration of evidence based
approaches into policy and encourage the use of evidence
Do you have all four requirements? What can you do to