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Glossary of Poverty and Social Inclusion Terms

The following is a glossary of terms used in many Combat Poverty publications and in discussions about poverty and social policy in Ireland. If there is a term you have come across which is not listed and you would like to see it explained here, please let us know at

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Area-based programmes: a co-ordinated series of actions which are devised and delivered within a particular spatial context to address social and economic disadvantage eg RAPID, CLÁR. Further information: Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

Area Development Management Ltd: see Pobal.

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Benchmarking: A point of reference. It is often used in the public sector as a term for comparing the performance in the public sector with the private sector or for comparing systems in Ireland with systems in other countries.

Border Region: The counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo in the context of the Peace Programme.

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Carbon tax: a tax levied for environmental reasons on the use of non-renewable fossil fuels with the aim of curbing their consumption.

Child Dependant Allowance: Child Dependant Allowance (CDA) is an increase in payment to the adult recipient of a social welfare allowance for the costs of maintaining a child or children. It is payable for children under 18 years of age and for children under 22 who are in full-time education. For more information on CDA and other welfare payments, visit the Department of Social Protection website

Community & Voluntary Pillar: a grouping of national representative community and voluntary organisations that is one of the four pillars of social partnership.

Community development: The long-term process whereby people who are marginalised or living in poverty work together to identify their needs, create change, exert more influence in the decisions which affect their lives and work to improve the quality of their lives, the communities in which they live, and the society of which they are part.

Consistent poverty: Relative income poverty combined with the lack of basic items such as warm coat, sufficient food or adequate heating. The percentage of people living in consistent poverty is the proportion of the total population, eg 7% who are living on a lower than normal income and who lack certain basic essential items there by experiencing a lower standard of living than the rest of society.


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Direct provision: A support system for asylum-seekers whereby all accommodation costs together with the cost of three main meals and snacks, heat, light, laundry, maintenance, etc are paid directly by the state. In additional asylum seekers in receipt of direct provision are paid €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child per week. Further information:

Demographic ageing: Occurs when a relatively higher proportion of the population is made up of ageing or older people, with implications for social spending on pensions, healthcare and other supports.

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EAPN - European Anti-Poverty Network: Independent coalition of non-governmental organisations and groups involved in the fight against poverty and social exclusion in the member states of the European Union. Further information:

Early Start Programme: The Early Start pre-school progamme was set up by the Department of Education and Science in 1994. The programme is targeted on areas of particular disadvantage. Its objective is to expose young children to an educational programme that will enhance their overall development and lay a foundation for future success.

Economic, social and cultural rights: Refers to the rights of all persons to live a fully human life which meets their physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs. Being deprived of hese rights is often symptomatic of living in poverty. See also justiciable rights.

Empowerment: The process of transferring decision-making power from influential sectors to poor communities and ndividuals who have traditionally been excluded from it.

EU-SILC: EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions conducted by the Central Statistics Office, which replaced the Living in Ireland Survey as the major source of poverty data from 2003. Further information:

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Food poverty: The inability to access a nutritionally adequate diet and the related impacts on health, culture and social participation.

Formative evaluation: An ongoing review to describe and analyse how an activity is carried out and to interpret the outcomes. It is valuable in helping those directly involved in the activity to assess its strengths and weaknesses and the changes required to improve its effectiveness.

Fuel poverty: Being unable to afford adequate levels of heating. This is one of a number of indicators of deprivation used to define consistent poverty.

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Horizontal equity: A principle designed to ensure a fair taxation system whereby people with a similar ability to pay taxes (not necessarily a similar amount of income) pay the same mount of tax.

Household Budget Survey: A random sampling of the population which the Central Statistics Office conducts from time to time to show the current pattern of expenditure in Irish households. Further information:

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Income deciles: Measuring and comparing the relative income of different groups by dividing the total population into tenths.

Indexation: A method by which social welfare payments would be increased by a certain amount each year. This amount would relate to a particular factor index in the economy eg inflation, earnings, incomes.

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Justiciable rights: Rights provide a claim or entitlement to a particular resource or opportunity such as right to housing, the right to adequate standard of living, the right to vote. Justiciable rights refer to rights that are part of the legal structure and that can brought by an individual or a group before the courts for its judgement on whether the right can be enforced or can be used to ensure the provision of a particular resource.

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Laeken Process: An agreement made at the Laeken Summit in December 2000 to give greater emphasis to social inclusion within the Lisbon Strategy.

Lisbon Strategy: An agreement reached by EU heads of government at the Lisbon European Council in 2000 to integrate employment, economic and social policies in order to make the EU the most competitive economy in the world. More information:

Living in Ireland Survey: survey carried out by the ESRI from 1994 to 2001, the primary source of data on poverty and deprivation in Ireland. Replaced by EU-SILC from 2003.

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Marginalisation: The process whereby certain groups suffering deprivation, eg the impoverished, unemployed, single parents and those with limited formal education are pushed to the edge of society where they have little say in decision making and are denied the means to improve their position.

Multiculturalism: The status of several different ethnic, racial, religious or cultural groups co-existing in harmony in the same society.

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National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS): The 10 year plan of the Irish Government aimed at tackling poverty which involves consultation, target setting and poverty proofing. NAPS aims to achieve better understanding of the structural causes of poverty such as unemployment, low income and educational disadvantage.

NAPincl: Two-year National Action Plans agreed by EU member states to work towards greater social inclusion through encouraging sustainable economic growth and quality employment for the poorer sectors of society.

National Development Plan (NDP): The Irish Government’s strategy for allocating EU Structural Funds and other public monies aimed at stimulating long term growth and a fairer distribution of resources across the whole economy. Further information:

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Open Method of Policy Co-ordination: A process whereby EU member states are responsible for national employment and social inclusion policies but are open to evaluation by other member states by submitting national action plans to the EU Commission. These are discussed by the Commission and by social affairs ministers at the EU Council meeting each Spring. Guidelines for the plans are set at EU level and include specific timetables for achieving goals set, the establishment of indicators to compare best practice, translating the European guidelines into national and regional policies, and periodic monitoring and review. See also NAPincl

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): International organisation of 29 countries whose objectives are to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and living standards in member and non-member countries. Further information:

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Peace Programme: The EU funded Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties in the Republic of Ireland. Further information:

Performance indicator: A method to measure the degree to which key objectives are achieved.

Pobal: Formerly known as Area Development Management (ADM), Pobal is an independent company set up by the Irish Government and the EU to support local economic and social development. It distributes funding through three main programmes: Local Development Social Inclusion Programme, Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in the Border Region and the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme. Combat Poverty was jointly responsible with Pobal for implementing a major part of the EU Peace II Programme in the Border Region. Further information:

Poverty: People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in Irish society. Because of their poverty they may experience multiple disadvantage through unemployment, low income, poor housing, inadequate health care and barriers to education. They are often excluded and marginalised from participating in activities that are the norm for other people. See also consistent poverty, relative income poverty

Poverty lines: From a base of average household income, poverty lines show the number of households and families falling below a certain income level and how far below that level they are. Poverty lines are usually set at 40%, 50% and 60% of the average income.

Poverty proofing: The process by which Government departments, local authorities and State agencies assess policies and programmes at design and review stages in relation to the likely impact that they will have, or have had, on poverty and on inequalities that are likely to lead to poverty, with a view to poverty reduction.

Poverty risk: The proportion of people living in households where their disposable income is below the threshold of 60% of the national average disposable income. The EU measure of poverty risk is set at 60% of national average income.

PROGRESS Programme: This programme is part of the new EU Structural Funds for the period 2007-2013. With funding of €629m it will cover the EU's social programmes on employment, social protection and inclusion, working conditions, anti-discrimination, diversity and gender equality.

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Qualitative Research: The gathering and analysing of data based on interviewees' own perceptions or experiences in order to provide insight into their beliefs about their circumstances rather than measurable data.

Quantitative Research: The gathering and analysing of measurable data.

Quarterly National Household Survey: Conducted by the Central Statistics Office every three months, the QNHS provides the official measure of employment and unemployment.

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Regional Operational Programmes: For EU Structural Fund purposes two regions have been designated in Ireland: the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Region and the Southern and Eastern (S&E) Region. Investment will be delivered to these two regions through the Regional Operational Programmes as set out in the National Development Plan. Further information:

Redistribution: Individuals and groups on higher incomes or wealth distributing to those on lower incomes or wealth. Redistribution by government is usually through transfers, regulation or provision of public services. Transfers involve the collection of money from people through the tax system and the payment of income to people through payments such as unemployment assistance or subsidies such as mortage interest relief. The minimum wage or rent controls are examples of regulation. Public transport and local authority housing are examples of state provision of services.

Relative income poverty: Relative income poverty is having an income that is less than what is regarded as the norm in society, giving a lower than normal standard of living. It is "relative" because it is measured by how much less it is relative to the income of the majority of people. It is usually expressed as a percentage figure, eg the 60% relative income poverty line is 60% of the disposable income of the average household. See also consistent poverty.

Rights: see economic, social and cultural rights

Risk of poverty - see poverty risk

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Schools designated with disadvantaged status: A number of primary schools, in the region of three hundred, are designated as disadvantaged in Ireland. This means that they get a greater level of support in terms of pupil-teacher ratios, special grants etc.

Social capital: Networks, understanding and values that shape the way we relate to each other and participate in social activities.

Social cohesion: Bringing together, in an integrated way, economic, social, health and educational policies to facilitate the participation of citizens in societal life.

Social exclusion: The process whereby certain groups are pushed to the margins of society and prevented from participating fully by virtue of their poverty, low education or inadequate lifeskills. This distances them from job, income and education opportunities as well as social and community networks. They have little access to power and decision-making bodies and little chance of influencing decisions or policies that affect them, and little chance of bettering their standard of living.

Social inclusion: Ensuring the marginalised and those living in poverty have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives, allowing them to improve their living standards and their overall well-being.

Social Inclusion Units: Structures developed or being developed by local authorities which have a dedicated emphasis on tackling social exclusion. These Units seek to extend key elements of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (NAPS) to local level and to promote social inclusion as a key priority within local government.

Social partnership: The process where government, employers, trade unions, farmers and the community and voluntary sector devise economic and social agreements for an agreed timeframe. At national level, the draft social partnership agreement Sustaining Progress is under consideration for ratification by each partner to the agreement. At local level social partners are included in many decision-making and service delivery structures such as county development boards and area-based partnerships.

Structural poverty: Deprivation which is reinforced by administrative, economic and social barriers preventing access to new life skills, employment opportunities, improved health care and better housing.

Subjective poverty: The perception by the individual as to whether s/he lives in poverty, or has what is necessary for a decent life.

Summative evaluation: A review designed to judge the effectiveness of an activity in terms of its outcomes and impact. The focus may be on measuring outcomes and quantifying costs and benefits. It is often carried out at the end of a process by a person(s) who was not originally involved in the activity.

Sustainable economic and social development: The type of broad-based, long-term human growth which encourages the continual development of skills, capacities and talents to the fullest possible extent as a means of challenging poverty and social exclusion.

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