Reducing poverty in the UK: what are the most important questions to answer?

22 May 2013


Earlier this month, CSaP partnered with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to host a two-day workshop in Cambridge which brought together experts from academia, government and the voluntary sector to discuss the changing face of poverty in the UK – to understand the causes of the problem, and to consider possible solutions.

Developed and led by CSaP Associate Fellow, Professor William Sutherland, the aim of the workshop was to identify 100 important unanswered questions about poverty in the UK – a similar exercise to that carried out in April 2011 where the top 40 science and policy research questions were identified and published in PLoS ONE.

Prior to the workshop, participants consulted with colleagues to generate questions on poverty – in total, 358 people were involved in submitting 460 questions across nine broad themes, ranging from employment to health & wellbeing. Through this democratic and transparent process, participants at the workshop succeeded in reducing the number of questions to 100.

As well as the benefits of improving the research base, this work is part of the JRF programme of developing evidence-based strategies to reduce poverty in the UK.

"We envisage this work being used in a range of ways", said Julia Unwin, CSaP Policy Leaders Fellow and Chief Executive of the JRF. "Most directly it will be an important input into the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Research Programme that seeks to find the most effective means of reducing poverty across the UK. We also hope that it will be used by practitioners, policy makers, researchers and other funders to help shape novel research into the causes of and solutions to poverty."

An open access paper on the process and findings will be made available soon, and will be widely distributed across organisations and researchers involved in preventing and reducing poverty.

For more information, please contact

Banner image courtesy of Marc Bruneke on Flickr

Amanda Strong: Case study

University of Bristol

Professor Bill Sutherland

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Dame Julia Unwin

York St John University

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