PSE research

In this section you will find full details of the current Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom research project (PSE UK), including background working papers as well as final reports, key summaries and an opportunity to investigate some of the key survey data. It also provides summary details of the predecessor research projects in Britain in 1999, 1990 and 1983 and in Northern Ireland in 2002/3.

These research projects all use relative deprivation to examine poverty and, in particular, the consensual method. The key concept underlying the consensual approach is to identify what items are necessities on the basis of the public’s perceptions of minimum needs and then to examine who is forced to go without these necessities. This research series therefore provides a unique insight into those who fall below the minimum standards set by society and how this has changed over time.

Detailed findings from the PSE research were presented at the Third Peter Townsend Memorial Conference held in June 2014. The twenty six presentations covered all aspects of the PSE research and are now available to download here. The PSE research findings present a detailed picture of the extent of deprivation and inadequate living standards in the UK today and the impact this has on people's lives. The first report from the PSE UK team 'The impoverishment of the UK', was published in March 2013. In 'Breadline Britain- the rise of mass poverty' Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack look back at this thirty years of research and ask why when the UK is twice a rich as in 1983 has poverty doubled?

Many countries across the world, and in particular the European Union, have taken up and developed the idea of publicly-perceived necessities. Brief details of this research can be found under International.

Featured PSE Research


Copyright: Report digital

PSE analysis of unpublished data shows that the majority of the UK population has suffered from a fall in their living standards during the current government’s term of office. The data, which the DWP had declined to publish before the election, was released to the EU statistical office.

How has the experiences of poverty changed over the last thirty years. Six new videos drawing from the ITV Breadline Britain series in 1983, 1991 and 2013. Breadline Britain: the rise of mass poverty by Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack is published by Oneworld on February 19, 2015

Young child with parents

The final report into child poverty and social exclusion finds 30% of children lack two of more of the child necessities and that child deprivation would be much higher if parents were not sacrificing their own living standards for their children's sake.