Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2014

Social Impact

girl with building blocks

Working to set the Living Wage

Loughborough experts
Donald Hirsch, Abigail Davis, Matt Padley, Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP), Social Sciences

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for the UK – originally developed by CRSP in collaboration with the Family Budget Unit at the University of York (2006-08) – states how much income households need to afford an acceptable standard of living. 

CRSP now updates MIS annually, at least with inflation, with new research every two years ensuring that it reflects changing social norms.

It has become the accepted mechanism by which the Living Wage outside London is set annually. It is endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation and adopted widely by public, private and voluntary bodies.

The MIS is based on research conducted with the public rather than financial statistics, and benchmarks the income needed to support a family’s participation in society – not just to lead a hand-to-mouth existence.

Its impact has been wide-ranging. It is used frequently in policy debate and analysis and, at a more practical level, by some charities to target financial support. 

CRSP has also used MIS to analyse the cost of bringing up a child, Universal Credit, the “couple penalty”, and the number of people living below adequate income.

As well as calculating MIS levels for the UK as a whole, CRSP has done the same for rural areas; explored whether environmental considerations may affect social definitions of a minimum; and is now looking at the additional costs faced by people with sight and hearing loss.

A growing number of countries are using the MIS method to carry out similar studies, and the CRSP team have been supporting research in Austria, France, Japan and Portugal.


  • MIS is now calculated annually by CRSP with on-going funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • It is endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation
  • More than 400 UK employers are now signed up to the Living Wage, including Barclays, First Transpennine Express, KPMG, Legal and General, Oxfam, Pearson, the National Portrait Gallery as well as many local authorities, smaller businesses and charities 
  • Universities are also amongst the organisations that have adopted the Living Wage, including Loughborough.
  • MIS is being adopted to explore  budget standards for households by countries world-wide

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