International review of effective anti-poverty strategies

This report, written by the New Policy Institute (NPI), reviews the international evidence on what makes an anti-poverty strategy effective. The report forms part of a wider project that is intended to practically inform Welsh Government policy decisions on poverty and social exclusion.

The focus of the report is on the anti-poverty strategy itself, as opposed to the individual anti-poverty policies and programmes that sit beneath (or within) it.

The review of international policies and programmes is the subject of a separate study led by the LSE. This study therefore focuses on reviewing strategy design, implementation, governance and monitoring, and ‘effectiveness criteria’, to explore how overarching and cross-cutting strategies can best be created to mobilise and harness poverty reduction efforts.

The report is based on research into five anti-poverty strategies currently being pursued by the national governments of New Zealand and Scotland; the regional governments of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and Castilla La Mancha (Spain); and the city government of Toronto (Canada).

Based on these cases, the report concludes that the role of an anti-poverty strategy is to bring about action on poverty within a context in which those who want action are not always the same people and organisations as those who can take action. Drawing additionally on other research into what constitutes a good strategy, it is proposed that a well-designed anti-poverty strategy should:

  1. Provide a framework which provides a means by which to enable or oblige action.
  2. Be clear what it aims to achieve and only include actions which serve that end.
  3. Recognise that until an anti-poverty initiative has had time to settle in, its planning and implementation are what matter most.
  4. Recognise that effective planning and implementation require good understanding, co-ordination and resources.
  5. Recognise that making something happen has value in its own right.
  6. Be capable of learning as it proceeds, with outcome measures playing an increasing role.
  7. Be the responsibility of a minister with enough seniority to ensure that the strategy is put into effect.