The report suggests some practical guidelines for developing a common definition of material need and identifying a standard below which people experience material hardship. First, direct measures should be used to assess the extent to which people are able to meet their needs. These are different from the income-based measures used to assess poverty. Second, the measures should start with basic physical needs that are related to physiological functioning in order to strengthen the claim that their absence represents a true hardship. Focusing on material needs that are essential to survival - basic levels of shelter, medical care, food and clothing - reduces the influence of personal preferences on observed living conditions.