The UK's largest ever research project on poverty and social exclusion in the United Kingdom is launched today with the ultimate ambition of helping to find solutions to tackle the problems of poverty and deprivation.
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the investigation will be led by a team of top flight researchers, who will examine trends from the past ten years. The findings will identify the causes and outcomes of poverty and social exclusion and could have a significant impact on policies to improve the standard of living across the social divide.
The initiative, which will span three and a half years, is a major collaboration between Heriot-Watt University, the University of Bristol, the University of Glasgow, the National Centre for Social Research, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, The Open University, Queen's University Belfast, and the University of York.
Professor Glen Bramley, of Heriot-Watt University's School of the Built Environment, said: "Since devolution in 1999, successive Scottish Governments have given tackling poverty a high priority and they have developed unique approaches to achieving this.
"This research will let us examine whether poverty levels are higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, and establish whether people in Scotland face different kinds of deprivation to the rest of the UK. We will also look closely at the role of housing, fuel costs, debt and the contribution of local services to easing or eradicating poverty."
Professor David Gordon, Director of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, said: "Billions of pounds are spent each year in the UK on trying to reduce poverty and yet poverty rates remain stubbornly and persistently higher than during the 1960s and 1970s.
"Wages and benefits are too low and too much money and talent is wasted on 'socially useless activities' in the financial sector. A radical re-think is needed on how to end poverty and exclusion once and for all.
This study will provide the kind of deep analysis that can inform the work of the new Government and that of Frank Field MP, who has been invited to lead a review on levels of poverty and how it should be measured."
The research project will:
- Improve the measurement of poverty, deprivation, social exclusion and standard of living.
- Measure the change in the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion over the past ten years.
- Produce policy-relevant results about the causes and outcomes of poverty and social exclusion and how best to address these problems.
The study is designed to provide robust results for Scotland, as well as for England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.