Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework: 2015 Update Report

Date published: 08 October 2015

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) today published the Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework Update report.

Statistical news release - OFMDFM

‘Lifetime Opportunities’, Government’s Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy for Northern Ireland was published in November 2006 and is a strategy to tackle poverty and Social Inclusion and patterns of deprivation.

The Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework comprises published data including specific child poverty targets, poverty and social exclusion indicators and public service agreement targets.

The report can be downloaded via the Statistics and Research section of the OFMDFM website.

Key Findings from the report

Child Poverty Targets

Child relative income poverty rates have fallen from an estimated 24% in 2002/03 to 23% in 2013/14. However, the target was to halve child relative income poverty by 2010/11, that is, to achieve a child relative income poverty rate of around 15% (approximately 67,500 children).

Child absolute income poverty rates have increased from 25% in 2002/03 to 26% in 2013/14. The 2010/11 target aimed to achieve a reduction in the number of children living in absolute income poverty to 46,000 by 2010/11. In 2013/14 the number of children living in absolute poverty was 112,000.

For the combined measure of child low income and material deprivation poverty target, the 2010/11 target associated with this measure was to establish a downward trend. Due to a change in methodology, only four years of data is comparable and this shows a static picture from 12% in 2010/11 to 12% in 2013/14 (although numbers have increased from 51,000 to 53,400 children living in combined low income and material deprivation poverty). This rate is lower than the UK figure of 13% for 2013/14.

Poverty and Social Inclusion Indicators

Income Poverty and Income Inequality

Overall relative income poverty rates in NI have remained relatively stable over the period 2002/03 to 2013/14. However there have been differences in the trends among the different lifecycle groups. The working age adult rate has increased from 16% in 2002/03 to 20% in 2013/14 but has remained at lower levels throughout the period compared to children and pensioners.

Overall absolute income poverty levels converged for all lifecycles between 2002/03 and 2013/14, except children. In 2013/14, children (26%) experienced higher absolute poverty when compared to pensioners (23%) and working-age adults (21%).

The level of inequality in the distribution of household income for all individuals in NI is slightly lower than those in 2013/14. In 2002/03 those households in the top 20% of the income distribution had a weekly household income around 3.9 times greater than the bottom 20%. By 2013/14, the household incomes of the top 20% were 3.6 times greater than those of the bottom 20%.

The number of people in NI in receipt of out of work benefits for two years or more increased by approximately 300 (0.2%) from 138,500 in 2002 to 138,800 in 2015. In GB, the number of people in receipt of out-of-work benefits decreased by 474,000 (15.1%) from 3,144,000 in 2002 to 2,670,000 in 2012.

Economic Activity

The employment rate for adults aged 16 and over in NI has increased from 55.3% in 2010 to 56.2% in 2013.

The employment rate for individuals aged 16-64 years in NI has increased by 2.8 percentage points between 2000 and 2012. This is similar to the trend seen in the European Union (EU) 27 member state averages were the employment rate for this age group increased. The employment rates for the ROI and the UK have decreased during this period.

The NI unemployment rate had decreased from 6.8% in 2000 to 4.0% in 2008 then increased to 7.4% in 2013. North of NI (14.0%) had an unemployment rate above the NI average in 2013. All other areas had unemployment rates below the NI average.

The long-term unemployment rate (unemployed for 12 months or more) for the economically active population aged 16 years and over in NI decreased from 3.1% in 2000 to 1.3% in 2008 and rose to 3.8% in 2013. In comparison, long term unemployment rates also rose in the UK, RoI and the EU 27 with the increase greatest in the RoI.

The proportion of working-age adults who were economically inactive was 29.1% in 2010 and 27.4% in 2013. The economic inactivity rate for working-age adults in NI has been consistently higher than the UK rate.

Education and Qualifications

On an international measure of science, mathematics and reading ability, the average score of NI students is broadly comparable to those from the UK and the OECD but scores lower compared to the RoI. NI scores higher than the OECD average in science and reading but lower than the OECD average in mathematics.

The proportion of young people aged 16 to 24 not in employment, full-time education or training was 11.4% in 2001 and 17.1% in 2014.

The proportion of adults aged 20 to retirement age with no formal qualifications decreased from 27% in 2000 to 17% in 2014. NI has had a consistently higher rate of adults aged 20 to retirement age with no educational qualifications compared to the UK as a whole with 17% of this cohort in NI having no qualifications compared to 9% in the UK in 2014.


Health indicators are longer-term indicators and interpretation of short-term change should be treated with caution. Longer term, all indicators show positive shifts. Life expectancy continues to rise, overall premature mortality rates reduced over the period and the age specific fertility rate for young mothers aged under 20 in NI shows a downward trend over time and is below that for other countries of the UK. However the relative impacts of social advantage/disadvantage on mortality rates persist.


Overcrowded households have reduced to marginal levels. The proportion of households living in overcrowded homes has fallen from 4.1% in 2000/01 to 1.7% in 2014/15.

Further information relating to the collection and production of the statistics can be obtained by contacting:

Michael Thompson
Research Branch
Block A
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate

Telephone: (028) 905 22411


Notes to editors: 

For press enquiries contact OFMDFM press office on 028 9037 8283. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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