Tower Hamlets Council: Child poverty

How do we make sure that services respond to the needs of vulnerable groups?

4 million children are currently living in poverty in the UK, and as public sector funding cuts start to bite, this problem is predicted to intensify.

Although the financial implications of severe low income directly affects quality of life, they also correlate with a range of barriers to participation, including alienation from services, poor literacy levels and low sense of self-efficacy.

Tower Hamlets is the third most deprived Borough in the country and has received Beacon Status for its progressive approach to tackling child poverty. In this context, the council commissioned our team to help ensure that service provision was responding to need at a super-local level.

Social research

Going beyond traditional quantitative and qualitative methodologies, we conducted a deep-dive ethnographic study to understand the lives of families living in poverty and unearth their latent needs.


Building on these insights, we designed and delivered a co-creation workshop to engage, empower and enable the same families to participate in the development of their own solution.

Commissioning strategy

It was clear that in many cases, very basic needs such as nutrition, shelter and security were not being met by the current provision. Drawing on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we developed a framework tool to map and gap services according to the distribution of poverty across the Borough.

Influencing policy

In addition to yielding a range of specific prototype service improvements, the insight and analysis resulting from this project was used to inform the council’s response to the Child Poverty Bill consultation.


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