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CASE Special Events


The Review of the UK Material Deprivation Measures

Abigail McKnight (CASE, LSE), Lottie Devaney (DWP), joint with other members of the CASE team

Wednesday 10 April 2024 11:30 - 13:00

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Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

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About this event

On Thursday 21 March the Department for Work and Pensions published the outcome from the Review of UK Material Deprivation Measures conducted by Abigail McKnight, Irene Bucelli, Tania Burchardt and Eleni Karagiannaki. Key findings from the Review will be presented at this event along with details of the revised material deprivation measures for children, working-age adults and pensioners.

Material deprivation is one of the official measures of poverty in the UK. In contrast to income-based measures which assess poverty risks based on whether or not household income is below a pre-determined poverty line, material deprivation measures take a more direct approach. These measures use self-reported information on whether or not individuals can afford a selection of everyday items and activities which are deemed to be necessities. 

Changes in norms and average living standards mean that the items and activities which are considered to be necessary for a minimum acceptable standard of living also change over time. For example, while most people are likely to consider that a reliable means of connecting to the internet at home is necessary today, this would not have been the case 20 or 30 years ago. Consequently, the items and activities included in material deprivation measures need to be reviewed periodically.

The Review included qualitative research with a cross-section of people from across the UK to help inform a revised set of necessities which were tested in the UK Family Resource Survey.  Analysis of these test items informed a set of recommendations on how the measures should be revised to reflect current perceptions on which items and activities are deemed to be necessary for a minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK today.  This information was combined with results from a series of statistical tests to identify the optimum combination of items and activities for children, working-age adults and pensioners.

The Review led to revisions in the UK material deprivation measures for children, working-age adults and pensioners, along with improvements and standardisation in the methodology used to collect information on material deprivation in the Family Resources Survey. New estimates of material deprivation based on these revised measures will be published in Spring 2025.

Find out more about the review. 

The Review summary and full report have been published by the Department for Work and Pensions and are available on the government website.

For further information and papers, when available, please contact:

The CASE team, Email: