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Reference budgets

A new poverty indicator for Flanders?

Investigating the feasibility of developing and using an additional indicator to monitor poverty at the Flemish level

Commissioned by the Flemish Government, Department of Welfare, Public Health and Family

In cooperation with the University of Antwerp


From until

Poverty indicator

This research builds on the findings and recommendations of the VISA report. In collaboration with the Centre for Social Policy of the University of Antwerp, CEBUD investigated the feasibility of the nominal poverty indicator foreseen in the Flemish coalition agreement. The Flemish government wants to be able to better monitor poverty in Flanders and see the impact of Flemish policies reflected in poverty figures. The research is funded by the Flemish Government, the Centre for Welfare, Public Health and Family Support.

A first step in the research project is to define the intended 'nominal poverty line'. To identify the expectations and needs around the new indicator, we conducted a policy-oriented Delphi survey among the members of the Parliamentary Commission for Welfare, Public Health, Family and Poverty Reduction. In three rounds, we explored the Commissioners' views on poverty, poverty measurement and poverty reduction and the need for additional indicators. This resulted in a separate report, which can be found at the bottom of this page. 

Based on the findings of this survey, the recommendations and findings of the VISA project and international examples, this research project tries to investigate the feasibility of a new Flemish poverty indicator based on reference budgets. We ask the question whether it is feasible to develop poverty lines that make it possible to measure the level, composition and development of poverty in Flanders on the basis of reference budgets. This takes into account not only income, but also the costs and social benefits associated with the use of necessary goods and services. 

Reference Budgets define the lower limit of social participation for certain family types on the basis of baskets of essential goods and services. They are designed to assess the financial needs of individual living situations, not to measure the extent and composition of poverty in the population. The research project explores the possibilities of generalising reference budgets for the whole population and applying them to representative income and expenditure data (EU SILC data). It also examines which social benefits, that affect the cost of essential goods and services, can be taken into account when measuring poverty.

Finally, the project examines what would be needed in terms of statistical data and models to effectively use this poverty indicator at the Flemish level.


The reports containing the results of this survey have been published on the website of the Department of Welfare, Health and Family.

Read report


Research manager

Bérénice Storms

PhD in social sciences. Research manager Centre of Expertise Budget and Financial Well-being


Heleen Delanghe

Heleen studied Sociology at the University of Antwerp. She focused on reference budgets, minimum income protection and social policy. 


Marieke Frederickx

Marieke studied commercial engineering at the KU Leuven and after her graduation she worked at various municipalities and public centers.


Tess Penne

Tess has a PhD in Sociology. She studies reference budgets, minimum income protection and poverty reduction.