Some policymakers also contest the view that relative poverty highlights the presence of inequality in society. Although inequality is related to the disparity in the level of income across all individuals, relative poverty is about the number of people who fall below the income category of individuals in the middle of the income distribution. Although, inequality is inevitable, there is no reason or valid justification that relative poverty cannot be removed from the society (Doug, 2006).
The progress made in richer countries like UK in terms of ease of healthcare facilities, access to technology and housing imposes the need to apply poverty lines to such countries. Individuals would need access to more such services (health, housing, banking, internet and access to other amenities) to be able to follow the social pattern and to be a part of the society. For the individuals who are much poorer, the approach of absolute poverty seems reasonable in order to ensure that the basic needs are adhered to. Moreover, the issues of wellbeing and ethics are also in control such as engaging in child labour, slavery, and exploitation in any form.
P. Townsend, the founder of the concept of relative poverty, considers poverty as a state or condition where because of lack of proper management of resources in the economy people suffer. According to him, poverty is multi-dimensional deprivation, where nation as a whole is in a state of disadvantage. There are two directions of poverty that one face on the ability to earn the basic means of livelihood. In this case, the poverty line designed under relative poverty is used as an indicator of median disposable income. In most of the European countries, the border of relative poverty is fifty percent. The another direction of poverty called as the “civil theory of poverty” is measured in terms of deprivation from being able to fully participate in the social activities. The concept of absolute poverty can be worked upon, but relative poverty remains due to the fact that it is almost impossible to eradicate inequality as an essential trait of the society.
There are two concepts for measuring poverty: subjective approach to poverty and the deprivation approach (Elizabeth, 2011). The subjective approach is based on the belief that only individuals, their friends and their close connections can determine whether they are poor or not. Thus, the subjective poverty line can be determined based on the opinion of the public and then compare it with the overall income level. The deprivation approach on the other hand states that individuals are categorised as poor if their consumption level is not in compliance with the community standards. This approach covers not only low levels of consumption or inadequate income levels, but also the poor food quality, lack of proper housing conditions, and inadequate access to health services and education, etc.