Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Research in Social Policy

News and events

An estimate of the cost of poverty to the Exchequer

Mon, 01 Aug 2016 01:00:00 BST

Part of the case for investing in programmes to reduce poverty is that it produces huge costs not just to those who experience it but to taxpayers who foot the bill for some of the consequences of poverty to society.  In areas where poverty is high, public spending on things like health care, children's social services and criminal justice is increased.  Moreover, people who have experienced poverty, especially in childhood, face disadvantages that reduce their chance of being in work and reduce their projected earnings when they do work, which means the Exchequer brings in less in taxes and pays out more in benefits.

Counting these costs is not easy, but this report gives an estimate to illustrate that poverty costs the Exchequer huge amounts of money - amounting to £78 billion a year, or around four per cent of GDP.

Read the report

Minimum Income Standard Report 2016

Wed, 20 Jul 2016 01:02:00 BST

The latest annual Minimum Income Standard (MIS) results show that some minimum costs are rising and others falling, but the pressures on families are as great as ever.  The 2016 report recalculates minimum budgets for families with children, using fresh research, and reviews those for households without children that were drawn up in 2014.  The results for families with children show some economies due partly to falling food and energy prices but also budgets that are more consciously ‘economical’ than in the past, for example with more shopping around for deals.  Years of difficult times appear to have created a lower-cost minimum, though changes are generally subtle rather than dramatic.

At the same time, parents continue to emphasise the need to give children a good chance in life, and this seems to be increasing minimum budgets in some areas.  Childcare budgets have risen to give families the choice of nursery as well as childminder cover.  Parents are saying that families should have such a choice, reflecting the emphasis put by the government on high quality early years education.  After school activity budgets have also risen. 

Read the report Read Abby's blog

Study of families on low incomes shows that most of all they crave stability

Fri, 15 Jul 2016 01:00:00 BST

A new report based on depth interviews with parents in 30 families living below the Minimum Income Standard shows that they work hard to make the most of their limited resources.  The qualitative research considered new challenges facing the growing number of families whose income falls below the minimum, including fragile employment, fluctuations in benefits and a greater dependence on privately rented housing.  The study found that families in these situations particularly value stability, which can be elusive in an uncertain world.  


The research found that different families cope with low income to varying degrees, helped or hindered by a range of factors, including in particular family health, the availability or otherwise of help from grandparents and other family members, whether the family had accumulated uncleared debts and whether they had access to social housing.


The report also considers how families below the Minimum Income Standard prioritise their resources, being unable to afford all the essentials identified by the public as needing to go into a minimum household budget.  In general, parents put their children’s needs before their own, spending little on their own social activities or clothing and sometimes even skipping meals to provide for their children.  The research also describes how in some cases it is not a matter of taking an item out of a minimum budget, but meeting a need differently – for example providing family leisure opportunities more through home-based means like paid-for TV when going out or going on holiday together would be too expensive.  

Press release Read the report Read Donald's Blog

New London Weighting figure based on MIS

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 09:50:00 BST

A paper by Donald Hirsch suggesting a new basis for a London Weighting, informed by the Minimum Income Standard research, has been published by Trust for London.

Press release and link to paper Donald's Blog

Recording of Professor Donald Hirsch's Inaugural Lecture

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:31:00 BST

Professor Donald Hirsch gave his Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday 27th April 2016 entitled Not by pay alone: Securing acceptable living standards for working families which was well received.

The lecture has been captured for those unable to attend.  To watch the lecture please follow the link below.

Watch the Lecture

Professor Hirsch's Inaugural Lecture - TODAY

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:44:00 BST

Professor Donald Hirsch will give his Inaugural Lecture at Loughborough University this evening.

The lecture entitled Not by pay alone: Securing acceptable living standards for working families will discuss how the National Living Wage is being linked to reduced state support and how this threatens to leave many working families worse off.

Professor Hirsch will raise fundamental issues about how to support adequate living standards while attempting to define at what point low household income becomes enough of a concern to justify government action.

In his lecture, Professor Hirsch will warn against undue reliance on wages alone to support working families, while at the same time arguing that adequate in-work benefits will be unaffordable if wages remain too low. The lecture will propose some clear principles to guide how the state and employers can share responsibility for improving living standards. 

The lecture will take place at 5pm in the Brockington Extension, Room U.0.20.

Click here to book your place.

'National Living Wage' raises pay and new policy issues

Thu, 31 Mar 2016 16:27:00 BST

Millions of workers get a 50p an hour pay rise today (1 April) with the launch of the Government’s National Living Wage (NLW).  This increase partly reflects the success of the Living Wage movement, although the £7.20 rate remains well below the £8.25 accredited Living Wage based on CRSP’s work on minimum living costs.  The NLW has raised issues much wider than pay rates, as it is part of a policy under which the government wants to put more emphasis on pay rather than government payments such as tax credits to support family living standards.  In his blog, Donald Hirsch argues that this is a major departure from previous policy, and points to its pitfalls as well as its potential.

Read Donald's blog

Professor Donald Hirsch to focus on implications of new National Living Wage in inaugural lecture next month

Thu, 17 Mar 2016 17:19:00 GMT

On 1 April, the introduction of a "National Living Wage" will usher in a new approach to helping working families in which the Government seeks to replace state support with higher pay. CRSP Director Donald Hirsch, who was recently made a Professor, will use his inaugural lecture on 27 April to explore the feasibility of such a policy and the wider ambition of helping working families achieve a decent living standad, in light of CRSP research. This pathbreaking lecture is open to all: for more details and free registration please follow the link below.

 

Book now

Research job opportunity: A chance to join a dynamic team making big waves in social policy!

Wed, 24 Feb 2016 17:04:00 GMT

CRSP is recruiting a new researcher, as part of the team that produces the Minimum Income Standard and sets the UK Living Wage.  If you're a qualitative researcher with a good analytical mind and an interest in applied social policy, take a look at our job advert.  If you aren't but know someone who is, please forward this to them.

Job advert

Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09 to 2013/14

Mon, 15 Feb 2016 10:02:00 GMT

The latest report in the Minimum Income Standard programme, funded by JRF was published today. The report looks at the changes in the adequacy of incomes, as measured by households’ ability to reach the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), between 2008/09 and 2013/14. It is the fourth in an annual series of reports tracking how many people live in households with insufficient income to afford a minimum socially acceptable standard of living according to MIS. As well as monitoring numbers below this threshold, the report also looks at how many are well above and how many well below this standard.

The report shows that overall the proportion of individuals living in households below MIS increased by nearly a third between 2008/09 and 2013/14, although between 2012/13 and 2013/14 the rate of increase slowed. Low income has become particularly widespread for families with children, with just over 40 per cent living below MIS in 2013/14 compared to 30 per cent in 2008/09. For households without children, the risk of being below MIS shows some signs of falling, but this hides an increase in risk for singles and a decrease for couples from a spike in 2012/13.

The analysis also looks at how the risk of low income relates to employment status.  While employment rates have been improving, this has not halted an increase in the number of families with children below MIS. For couple families with children, where one parent works full-time and the other does not work, the risk of having an income below MIS has risen from 38 to 51 per cent since 2008/09; 41 per cent of lone parents working full time have incomes below MIS, up from 26 per cent in 2008/09.  

Read the report Read Matt's blog

Additional costs of living for people who are sight impaired or severely sight impaired

Wed, 20 Jan 2016 00:06:00 GMT

Sight Loss and Minimum Living Standards: The Additional Costs of Living for People of Working Age who are Severely Sight Impaired and for People of Pension Age with Acquired Sight Impairment

New research by CRSP using the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) method provides a greater insight into the additional costs of vision impairment and how they increase with severity of impairment and age.  The study shows that working age people who are severely sight impaired face 60% higher costs, and the costs for someone of pension age who is sight impaired can be 41% more than people of the same age who are not vision impaired.  The research funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust followed on from a previous study looking at the costs of someone of working age who is sight impaired, and calculates how much extra the different groups need to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living, compared to the standard MIS budgets:

  • Severely sight impaired (SSI) working age adult: an additional £116.43 per week
  • Sight impaired (SI) pension age adult: £75.39
  • This compares to £48.77 for a sight impaired (SI) working age adult, showing that both severity and life stage greatly affect costs.

The findings also highlight the broad range of additional costs that people who are vision impaired face which include direct aids to help with sight loss, services at home and additional lifestyle related costs outside of the home such as for social interaction and travel, and that there are similarities as well as differences in needs and costs when severity of impairment and age are taken into account.

To access the Report and Research Findings in Word files please click below:

Sight Loss and Minimum Living Standards Report_Word

Sight Loss and Minimum Living Standards Research Findings_Word

Read the report - pdf Read the research findings - pdf

How members of the public reach consensus on minimum household needs

Wed, 16 Dec 2015 11:37:00 GMT

The Minimum Income Standard research carried out regularly by CRSP involves detailed discussion among member of the public about what things are essential for a minimum acceptable standard of living. A new report sets out for the first time the details of how the groups reach consensus and what rationales they use to determine which items are included. Based on analysis of six years of MIS research, the report identifies the common themes that have emerged from the groups’ discussions, ranging from the need to have reasonable choices to the importance of living life in a practical way when time is scarce. For each area of household budgets, it explains how these rationales have guided decisions about what items people need to be able to afford

Read the report

Osborne scraps tax credit cuts - response

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:38:00 GMT

Donald Hirsch argues today in his blog that the Chancellor's cancellation of the tax credit cuts announced in the Summer Budget shows that politicians can pay attention to evidence - including CRSP's analysis of the strong impact of the cuts. He points out that this will not affect entitlements in the long term under Universal Credit, but suggests that it has helped create a new awareness of the harm to working families that cuts in support can bring. This could affect debate and policy about "welfare cuts" well into the future. 

Read Donald's blog

UK Living Wage uprated based on CRSP calculations

Mon, 02 Nov 2015 00:04:00 GMT

The new UK Living Wage has been announced as £8.25 an hour.  
This is the wage set annually by the Living Wage Foundation, based on CRSP's calculations.  Over 2,000 accredited employers have chosen to pay it.  
The Living Wage calculation is linked to our research on the Minimum Income Standard, and applies to the UK outside London.  The GLA calculates the London rate.

The government's National Living Wage, set at £7.20 an hour from April 2016, is not connected to these calculations: it is a version of the compulsory National Minimum Wage, applying to workers over 25.  It is not linked to living costs; by 2020 the aim is that it should be 60% of average wages for over 25s. 

Uprating paper

Welfare Reform and Work Public Bill Committee

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 09:56:00 BST

Matt Padley, Senior Research Associate at CRSP, was invited to give evidence to the Welfare Reform and Work Public Bill Committee regarding the government proposals to replace the existing child poverty targets with life chances ‘measures’.  Matt gave evidence in a session with representatives from the Child Poverty Action Group, University of Bristol and the Centre for Social Justice.  The committee’s role is to hear evidence in relation to the changes set out in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.  Matt argued for the need to maintain an indicator of income poverty within the suite of measures being proposed as child poverty measures as income remains a key determinant of children's life chances.

A transcript of the session will be available here: 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmpublic/welfarereform/150915/am/150915s01.htm

 

Children in London - the extra cost

Tue, 08 Sep 2015 09:45:00 BST

As a follow-up to CRSP research on minimum costs in London and to its calculations of the cost of a child in the UK, this study considers how much more it costs to bring up a child in London. If finds that whereas most costs are very similar to elsewhere and transport is slightly cheaper, large additional housing and childcare costs make the overall cost of a child far more expensive in the capital. A key difficulty is that families that work longer hours to help cover their high housing costs can be hampered from doing so by prohibitively expensive childcare. The report explores how various policies influence the affordability of children in London. 

Read the report

Will the 2015 summer budget improve living standards in 2020?

Mon, 07 Sep 2015 09:33:00 BST

Many low-income households, in and out of work, will be made much worse off by cuts in benefits by 2020, according to these new projections, which looks at how far various types of household are likely to fall below a minimum acceptable standard of living as a result of current policies. Any working-age families relying on benefits will lose from the four-year freeze in their level, and many (but not all) working families with children will lose more in-work benefits than they gain from the new National Living Wage. Overall, some working families will be as badly off in 2020 as the equivalent non-working families were in 2010.

Read the report Read Donald's blog

The Cost of a Child 2015

Wed, 12 Aug 2015 00:06:00 BST

It costs at least £150,000 to bring up a child, according to this year’s Cost of a child report.  While low inflation means that this cost has stopped rising, many families on low incomes have far too little to afford this minimum cost.  This year’s report shows how life is likely to get tougher for out-of-work and low-earning families over the next few years as a result of recently announced welfare cuts.  The hardest hit will be larger families who are not working, many of whom will end up with well under half what they need as a minimum.

Read the report Read Donald's blog

Making ends meet in Birmingham

Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:51:00 BST

A new report by CRSP explores the impact of Birmingham City Council’s adoption of the living wage and looks at some of the key challenges facing those living in the city in a context of austerity and welfare reform.  The report also highlights the challenge posed by child poverty levels in the city as well as looking at how changes in support for housing costs have impacted on the residents of Birmingham. The report has been used extensively in the recently published Birmingham Child Poverty Commission’s Child Poverty Needs Assessment

Read Matt's blog Read the report

MIS Report Launch 2015

Wed, 01 Jul 2015 00:02:00 BST

The latest annual Minimum Income Standard (MIS) results show that for the first time since MIS was launched in 2008, the cost of a minimum acceptable standard of living did not rise in 2015.  This year's report looks back over the past seven years, looking in particular at how households on out-of-work benefits and on the National Minimum Wage have faced a widening shortfall between their disposable income and the MIS budgets.

Read the report Read Donald's blog

Child poverty after childcare costs

Fri, 19 Jun 2015 00:04:00 BST

This report explores the extent to which childcare costs push some households into poverty.  Based on the definition of poverty as having incomes below 60% median after housing costs, the calculations also deduct the costs of childcare to establish a new threshold.  Results suggest that 133,000 children are in families whose childcare costs cause them to be reclassified as in poverty once these are taken into account.  Most people who pay high amounts for childcare are relatively well off; nevertheless, for those paying at least £50 a week, the risk of falling into poverty triples from 8.6 to 23.2 per cent once these costs are taken into account.  These results feed into the debate about the rising costs of childcare and the proposed changes in childcare policy in the UK. 

Read the report

CRSP evidence used by Scottish government to assess Living Wage strategy

Wed, 27 May 2015 12:52:00 BST

The Scottish Government is using new evidence from CRSP to encourage all Scottish employers to pay the Living Wage, which is calculated based on our Minimum Income Standard.

A report published today considers benefits and pitfalls of extending the Living Wage. It is based on a survey of Scottish employers by Ipsos and a review of international evidence by CRSP. The review shows in particular that a large body of US research on the effects of Minimum Wages and Living Wages set at different levels shows little evidence overall of negative effects on employment levels and ample evidence of benefits in terms of employee well-being, lower turnover, better productivity and other gains.

Read the report Press release

What do Londoners need for a decent standard of living?

Wed, 20 May 2015 00:02:00 BST

New research from CRSP shows that a third of Londoners have less income than they need for what the public regard as a decent standard of living. That is one that allows them to meet their basic needs and participate in society at a minimum level.

The research was funded by independent charity Trust for London, and is the first to look in detail at the minimum additional costs of living in the capital.

The data show that it costs between 20% and up to 50% more for different household types to reach a minimum decent standard of living in London than elsewhere in the country. This is because of additional costs, particularly those relating to housing, transport and childcare. As well as the higher price of housing, childcare and public transport in London, higher costs are also influenced by how Londoners live. For example they do not need cars but they do need the underground (not just buses) which is more expensive than public transport elsewhere. Leisure is also differently structured than outside London, and can cost more partly because Londoners tend to have less indoor space so tend to do more things outside the home.

Commenting, Matt Padley, Senior Research Associate at CRSP said:

“This is the first piece of research that has asked Londoners to look in detail at what is needed to lead a decent life. The findings can help policymakers to explore in more depth the impact of particular costs in London. For example, people may say a rent is unaffordable to someone on a particular income but what does that mean? You need to know how much people require, after paying their rent, to afford the other basics of life. This research provides those figures.

Mubin Haq, Director of Policy and Grants at Trust for London, said:

“For some it costs almost 50% more to reach a decent standard of living in the capital compared to the rest of the country. The very high costs of housing, transport and childcare mean 1 in 3 Londoners are struggling to live a decent life, especially families with children. This is not about just food, clothing and having a roof over your head. It’s about the difference between people being able to participate in society or not. It raises important questions about whether London is for everyone or does it become a city for the wealthiest. To help more Londoners reach the minimum we need a two-pronged approach which tackles low incomes, particularly low wages, coupled with policies to bring down the costs of housing, transport and childcare. Action is needed by employers to pay at least the Living Wage and by Government, particularly in relation to affordable housing.”

You can see what different households need in order to have a minimum standard of living here.

Read the report

CRSP Researchers interviewed for BBC Scotland Investigates

Mon, 18 May 2015 11:33:00 BST

Matt Padley and Abigail Davis were interviewed as part of a programme looking at low pay in Scotland.

The programme investigates who is and who isn't paying the living wage.  It hears evidence that many workers will never escape wages that mean they are trapped in working poverty.  The programme has an exclusive insight into Minimum Income Standard research that establishes just what we need to have a decent standard of living.

BBC Scotland Investigates, tonight, BBC One Scotland at 8.30pm.

Watch on BBC iplayer

Minimum budgets for single people sharing accommodation

Mon, 18 May 2015 11:29:00 BST

This working paper reports on research, based on existing Minimum Income Standard work, looking at a minimum budget for a single person living in a household shared with one or more other non-related adults.  The paper explores how much it costs as a minimum to live as a sharer, compared to how much it costs to live independently.

Read the report

New CRSP Blog - Up a bit or down a bit, living standards are in the doldrums, and have fallen for many worse-off families

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:32:00 GMT

New blog written by CRSP Director Donald Hirsch following yesterday's budget announcement

Read Donald's blog

Paying the Price - Childcare in universal credit and implications for single parents

Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:55:00 GMT

Analysis of childcare support under universal credit for Gingerbread shows that it will improve single parents' ability to make ends meet, but the failure to update the cap on this support undermines this effect and could be corrected at little or no cost.

Read the report Read Donald's blog

Could a citizen's income work?

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:03:00 GMT

There has been increasing public discussion of proposals for a citizen's income - a sum paid unconditionally to everyone in the UK to provide a baseline income.  In this paper, Donald Hirsch examines the fundamental changes that this would imply for our social protection and taxation systems.  He demonstrates that we would need to accept not just an end to the conditionality of income support but also much higher tax rates.  While these changes may not be politically feasible at present, the idea of a citizen's income raises interesting questions about the future shape of our social security system.  

Read the report Read Donald's blog

New paper published today - Costs and Needs in London

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:05:00 GMT

Households in London face special challenges making ends meet.  Costs such as housing, transport and childcare are different from the rest of the United Kingdom.  This paper considers how the ability of Londoners to meet their minimum needs might differ from that of people living elsewhere in the UK.  People’s ability to meet their needs depends on both the costs of meeting those needs and the financial resources available to them, so each of these are looked at in turn.  Where possible, the paper also examines how the things that Londoners require, and not just their cost, might differ from elsewhere in the UK, but at present there is little evidence about this.  The paper concludes by looking at existing evidence regarding the numbers and experiences of people unable to meet their minimum needs in London.  

Lydia's blog Read the paper

Disability and minimum living standards: The additional costs of living for people who are sight impaired and people who are Deaf

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:04:00 GMT

In another milestone in the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) research, the method has for the first time been used to calculate the additional cost of some forms of disability.  A study published today looks at the additional cost of covering a minimum budget faced by people with particular types of sensory impairment.  Funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, the study finds that:

  • A working age single person who is sight impaired requires at least a quarter more than the £199 a week required by a non-disabled single person (net of rent) for a minimum standard, even with some usable sight.
  • A Deaf person who uses British Sign Language requires over 80% more.

These are just two initial examples (and do not allow a general comparison between the cost of visual and hearing loss), but demonstrate how MIS can help both to quantify the extra costs of disability and to describe where and why they arise. The findings draw particular attention to costs that arise from the way disabled people live their everyday lives, not just from spending on adaptations and equipment.

The results are presented in:

A main report presenting the method and the results in full
Disability and Minimum Living Standards Report
Disability and Minimum Living Standards Report - Word

A summary of findings of the project as a whole
Findings - For people who are sight impaired and for people who are Deaf
Findings - For people who are sight impaired and people who are Deaf - Word

Separate summaries covering sight impaired and Deaf findings

Findings - Additional costs of living for people who are sight impaired
Findings - Additional costs of living for people who are sight impaired - Word

Findings - Additional costs of living for people who are Deaf
Findings - Additional costs of living for people who are Deaf - Word

A signed version of the Deaf findings, presented in British Sign Language is below:

 

Katherine's blog

Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09 to 2012/13

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 00:04:00 GMT

The latest report in the Minimum Income Standard programme, funded by JRF was published today. The report looks at the changes in the adequacy of incomes, as measured by households’ ability to reach the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), between 2008/09 and 2012/13; a period when recession set in and continued to bite while the tightening of benefits and tax credits first kicked in. It is the third in an annual series of reports tracking how many people live in households with insufficient income to afford a minimum socially acceptable standard of living according to MIS. As well as monitoring numbers below this threshold, the report also looks at how many are well above and how many well below this standard. 

The report shows that overall there has been a deterioration in living standards, with the proportion of individuals living in households below MIS increasing by nearly a third between 2008/09 and 2012/13. Low income has become particularly widespread for families with children, with nearly 40 per cent living below MIS in 2012/13 compared to 30 per cent in 2008/09. This year’s analysis also includes for the first time an analysis of how this deterioration relates to employment status. It finds that whereas for families with children, the most important factor is falling real wages and benefits, so the risk of low income has gone up for people in each employment category. However, for young adults without children, the growth in low income was much more closely connected to their increased risk of being out of work.

Read the report Read Matt's blog Read Laura's blog

 

Centre for Research
in Social Policy

Department of Social Sciences
Loughborough University
Leicestershire
LE11 3TU

+44 (0)1509 223372

CRSP Blog