There’s a strong note of despair underpinning much of today’s political discourse. A sense that the country is becoming more polarised, being overwhelmed by recurrent crises and running out of ideas to tackle them. So it might seem strange to say that I feel more hopeful now that we can address poverty and hardship in the UK than I have for a long time.

At times in the past we have achieved great successes, most notably the enormous reductions in pensioner poverty since the mid-1990s. But the overall rate of poverty has proved stubbornly stable over time, and the numbers of people trapped in deep poverty have risen steadily. Allowing this situation to continue is morally reprehensible and economically illiterate.

So why am I hopeful?

In recent times I have seen the quality of media coverage and public debate about poverty become markedly more thoughtful and respectful.  The voices of people with direct experience of poverty are more often heard, and listened to, than used to be the case. There are politicians at all points of the political spectrum who are deeply concerned about poverty.

Policymakers, thinkers and activists can still disagree vehemently about how to solve it of course. But there is more shared understanding about the range of issues that must be considered. Most people recognise that work, family relationships, housing, community support, social security, skills, transport and childcare will all play a part.  Our debates centre to a greater extent on the right balance of action between governments, individuals, communities, civil society, businesses and so on, rather than any side claiming that there is either no role for each of these, or that one actor bears sole responsibility.

The new Poverty Strategy Commission aims to encapsulate and advance these hopeful developments. It brings together people from a wide range of perspectives, with varying types of expertise and experience but united in the goal of finding genuine solutions to poverty.

Underpinning the Poverty Strategy Commission’s work is the measurement framework developed by the previous Social Metrics Commission. The power of this framework is that it allows us to consider a wide range of drivers and levers for change. The SMC measure takes account of savings, debt and inescapable costs such as housing, childcare and those linked to disability. Its set of ‘lived experience indicators’ allows us to consider factors which pull people into poverty, prevent them from escaping it and make the experience of it more or less damaging. And the SMC framework helps us to think as much as the depth of poverty (how far below a reasonable standard of living someone falls) and how long it lasts as about the overall level.

All this means that the new Poverty Strategy Commission can look for solutions across all the factors which we know are important but sometimes struggle to link directly with poverty analysis. Reducing the cost of childcare or housing, increasing people’s savings and minimising their debts will bring down the poverty rate. Improving skills, strengthening family relationships and increasing mental health support will show up in the lived experience indicators and feed into lower poverty in the future.

The Poverty Strategy Commission will still have robust debates and disagreements. That’s vital if we are to make serious progress. We actively want to bring our different views to the table and explore a wide range of ideas and options. I believe our disagreements will be healthy and productive, because we have the basis of a shared goal and measurement framework and we all enter into them in the spirit of mutual respect.