This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows that there can be objective scientific measures of poverty and in doing so explores the notions of 'Absolute' and 'Overall' poverty and some other ways that poverty and social exclusion can be operationalised. It outlines how it is possible to bring together consensual measures of poverty with budget standards techniques to establish agreed poverty lines by using carefully selected focus groups to discuss, negotiate and agree minimum essential needs. The book explores the distribution of poverty to explore the north-south divide, urban rural differences, inter-urban patterns and whether relative poverty has become less extreme. It examines the shift from the use of the word poverty to the use of social exclusion in the context of the European Union's three poverty programmes and the implications of this for social work practice in Europe.