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Attitudes to poverty

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Addressing poverty is a perennial issue in British politics. Yet it is one that gained further salience in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently with the emergence of the cost of living crisis. How the public thinks about the causes of poverty, their perceptions of the types of people affected and how they would like policymakers to respond are critical considerations in tackling these kinds of crises – as well as inequalities more generally. 

In this scoping study for Engage Britain, we assess the current state of knowledge around public attitudes to poverty in the UK. This involves drawing on both the existing literature and polling data, and consulting experts from academic and practitioner communities. Our aim is to address the following research questions, with the view to informing Engage Britain’s future work in this space, specifically in conducting deliberative work in this area: 

  1. What are the public’s attitudes to poverty in the UK? What do they have in mind when they consider the term, and what forms of poverty, or groups affected, attract more or less concern, and why? 

  2. What approaches can best engage the public on poverty? How are different policy measures likely to be received, and are there measures that are likely to garner more consensus than others?