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Reducing poverty

2.8 million children in the UK – over 20% – live in income poverty.

While the causes of poverty are complex, recent efforts in public policy have tended to focus on tackling systemic worklessness as means of supporting families to achieve financial independence. Growing up in a workless family not affects children’s capacity to attain good health and educational outcomes, but, evidence suggests, it reduces aspirations and the confidence that is vital to obtaining higher paid work.

Unfortunately, there is also wealth of evidence showing that people from disadvantaged backgrounds face greater difficulties in accessing work compared to the majority of the population. Language barriers, employer attitudes, access to development opportunities, ill health, poor design of employment promoting initiatives, and a range of other factors can all lead to higher levels of worklessness within disadvantaged groups. Our work in this area has centred around identifying precisely what barriers are relevant in any given situation and devising solutions to help empower people out of poverty.

The problems we’re solving

  • unpicking the equalities implications of work programmes that rely on increasing individuals’ social capital
  • developing fairer employment practice, exploring issues such as advertising, designing application forms, shortlisting, and interviewing
  • developing enterprise programmes to provide individuals from disadvantaged groups with the skills to set up and run their own businesses


What we’re doing
We’ve worked with Jobcentre Plus to evaluate the accessibility of local projects aimed at asylum seekers and refugees. Looking specifically at the Ethnic Minority Flexible Fund, the project identified areas of good practice and a range of barriers impeding access to employment and employment services for refugee and asylum seekers.

Working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, we are investigating the capacity of social networks to alleviate poverty for those from disadvantaged groups. Social networks have gained a great deal of attention recently for their potential to improve access to information about employment, training, and financial opportunities. Our work is exploring how social networks affect poverty differently for people from marginalised backgrounds and ways in which networks can be developed to improve their effectiveness in reducing poverty.

See for yourself

Download iconPovertyEthnicitySocialNetworks (314.94 kB)


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