News and events
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
MIS impact recognised in top REF score
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 10:38:00 GMT
The impact of the research carried out on the Minimum Income Standard has gained national recognition with the publication of the Research Excellence Framework results rating the outputs of university research.
Based on two 'impact narratives', including MIS, submitted under social work and social policy, Loughborough University was rated as 'world leading' on 90% of elements and 'internationally excellent' on the remaining 10%. These results put the impact of Loughborough's two social science research centres into the top six universities in the country in this category.
This result recognises the large impact that MIS has made on social policy in the UK, including on policy debate, on the Living Wage and on the identification of households in need by charities.
Donald Hirsch, CRSP Director, commented:
"CRSP continues to play a leading role in informing social policy and practice. Our impact score is on a level with some much larger centres at other universities, showing that we are able to achieve big things with relatively few resources. In recent years we have focused our research efforts on establishing a benchmark minimum income which has proved to have a wide range of applications. MIS has become an established reference point for anyone wanting to link social policy and practice to the promotion of adequate household incomes. These results are also a tribute to the quality of our team at CRSP, each one of whom brings skill and dedication to their work, and who together continue to produce world leading research."
UK Living Wage uprated based on CRSP calculations
Mon, 03 Nov 2014 00:06:00 GMT
The new UK Living Wage has been announced as £7.85 an hour.
This is the wage set annually by the Living Wage Foundation, based on CRSP's calculations.
The Living Wage caluclation is linked to our research on the Minimum Income Standard, and applies to the UK outside London. The GLA calculates the London rate.
Making ends meet in Leicester
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:13:00 BST
A new report by CRSP explores what are emerging as some of the key challenges facing the population of Leicester in an environment of austerity and welfare reform. A significant issue highlighted in the report is the impact of housing benefit changes on individuals and families living in social and private rented accommodation. The report also looks at the way in which different categories of deprivation are distributed across the city.
CRSP is today also launching its blog with a piece by Matt Padley talking about the issue of housing in Leicester.
New Child Poverty Map of the UK
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:04:00 BST
The Campaign to End Child Poverty has today published new figures that provide a child poverty map of the whole of the UK. The figures are broken down by parliamentary constituency, local authority and ward.
Donald Hirsch and Laura Valadez compiled the local poverty indicators for 2014.
CRSP Director interviewed for BBC Panorama
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:39:00 BST
CRSP Director Donald Hirsch has assisted with putting together the latest edition of the BBC Panorama programme based on his work on the Living Wage and Tax Credits.
‘Workers on the Breadline’, reports on the millions of British workers who are being paid too little to live on and also includes Donald as an interviewee.
Panorama ‘Workers on the Breadline’ can be seen first on BBC1, Monday 6th October at 8.30pm.
It can also be watched on BBC iPlayer for a year.
Comparative analysis of Minimum Income Standards - Ireland and the United Kingdom
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:56:00 BST
This document looks at the similarities and differences in the budgets necessary to achieve a minimum socially acceptable standard of living between Ireland and the United Kingdom. For each country, the analysis concentrates on the needs of a household composed of two parents, a pre-school child and a primary school child. Data was obtained in 2012, and includes the costs of goods and services required to meet this household’s needs required for a socially acceptable living standard, priced through retailers that would be easily accessible in each country.
The comparison reveals that even though the UK budget is larger than the Irish one, their relative composition is broadly similar. The main difference between the budgets is the inclusion of private health insurance in Ireland but not in the United Kingdom, where it is freely available through the NHS. Another important difference is related to the quantity and range of items that are specified as necessary to meet a particular need, which in a number of cases are greater in the UK than in Ireland.
Means testing or Universalism: what strategies best address poverty?
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:02:00 BST
This study, published today, reviews the respective roles of means-tested and universally available benefits and services in helping to reduce poverty. It was produced to inform Joseph Rowntree Foundation's anti-poverty strategy.
The study draws on a wide range of evidence from the UK and other countries, considering the effectiveness of different approaches. It shows that both means-testing and universalism have their roles in different contexts, and suggests criteria for choosing between (or combining) the two. In particular, it shows how universal support can make most sense in relation to redistribution across the life course and in establishing access to certain services, but that in times when public resources are coming up against absolute limits, there are other cases where means-testing needs to be accepted since the alternative could be serious shortfalls in access to required resources for lower income groups.
Cost of a child in the UK in 2014
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:02:00 BST
The latest annual update of calculations of the additional cost of bringing up a child, based on the Minimum Income Standard, show that it now costs £154,000 to bring up a child, up 8 per cent since 2012. The cost of childcare and other expenses have been rising more rapidly than family incomes. As a consequence, families both in low-paid jobs and out of work are falling short of affording a minimum living standard, by a growing amount. The cap on uprating benefits and tax credits is systematically increasing this shortfall.
CRSP Director joins inquiry on disabled people's costs
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:03:00 BST
Disabled people and their families should be able to live, learn, work and get involved in their communities without facing a financial penalty. This is what the charity Scope say who have set up the Extra Costs Commission, a year-long independent inquiry that will look at how businesses, local and national government, as well as the public and voluntary sectors can work in new and innovative ways to drive down extra costs faced by disabled people and families with disabled children in England and Wales.
An expert panel of Commissioners have been brought together, which includes Donald Hirsch, the Director of CRSP, to seek formal evidence from a range of people and organisations.
'No clearer guide' to costs than MIS, says Guardian
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:48:00 BST
"There is no clearer guide to what the general public considers to be the true nature and cost of a basic, no-frills human existence in the world's sixth richest economy than the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's minimum income standard (MIS)."
Article published in the Guardian on Tuesday 1st July was just part of the coverage the latest update of the MIS report received this week.
Minimum Income Standard Report 2014
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 00:02:00 BST
The latest annual Minimum Income Standard (MIS) results show that it costs 28% more than in 2008 to afford an essential basket of goods and services, but earnings have increased by only 9%. As a consequence, the income of people on benefits and low earnings has fallen further behind MIS. This is particularly affecting families with children, whose in-work benefits are being cut in real terms.
The 2014 report recalculates minimum budgets for households without children, using fresh research, and reviews those for families with children that were drawn up in 2012. This marks the point where all the original budgets have been researched again from scratch. The contents of the minimum baskets are similar to those of 2008, but changes, such as the addition of computers and the internet for pensioners, in 2014 reflect changes in society.
Wages, taxes and top-ups
Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:02:00 BST
Wages, tax rates and in-work support such as tax credits have had a changing influence on family income in recent years. Wage increases have been modest, but in the past 15 years the state has stepped in to give substantial top-ups to working families. As a result, by 2008, a lone parent or a working couple with children could hope to reach the Minimum Income Standard even with modest wages.
But since 2008 this situation has started to reverse. This report documents how stagnating wages and cuts in in-work benefits have again made it harder to reach an acceptable minimum for a family with low earnings.
The report, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also looks at the policy options that could help turn the tide back in a positive direction. It finds that income tax cuts proposed by the political parties are not a cost-effective solution, since their impact is spread too thinly. Bolstering in-work benefits would be a far cheaper way of improving the incomes of needy working families, in combination with measures to improve their wages.
MIS Report Launch 2014
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 10:06:00 BST
The launch of this year’s MIS report will take place on Tuesday 1st July in London at 4.15pm.
Released in partnership by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Centre for Research in Social Policy, the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) is based on detailed research into the goods and services that members of the public think are needed for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. Expert knowledge on certain physical living requirements, including nutrition are also factored in.
As a benchmark of income adequacy the standard provides an important lens for considering the impact of economic performance and tax and benefits policy on the living standards of specific groups in the UK. As well as being used frequently in policy debates and analysis it forms the basis for setting the Living Wage outside of London.
Chaired by Sarah Newton MP, the launch event for the 2014 update of MIS will begin at 4:15pm with a presentation from the report’s authors, followed by discussion and questions.
If you would like to attend the launch, please book your place by following this link mis2014.eventbrite.co.uk
Evidence from CRSP cited in landmark High Court ruling
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:19:00 BST
In an extraordinary development, a High Court judge ruled on 9 April that the extremely low benefit entitlements of asylum seekers, and the freezing of their level in recent years, is illegal and needs to be corrected by the Home Secretary. In his ruling, he cited evidence that we submitted showing the inadequacy of these benefits in relation to minimum needs, and the fact that minimum costs had risen sharply, whereas the Home Office was suggesting that the contrary may be the case. The lawyers in the case informed us that our evidence had been crucial. Although this does not mean that judges will be setting benefits based on MIS, it is a significant precedent in terms of judges being willing, under judicial review, to overturn a benefit decision whose justification is shown to be irrational, and our evidence can contribute to this conclusion.
Further information on the case and outcome is available via the link below.
Vote for our Living Wage research
Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:16:00 GMT
CRSP has been nominated for two Loughborough University Enterprise Awards for our work on the Living Wage.
One in the Social Impact category and the other for our Consultancy work.
The award is being decided by public ballot and you can vote for us using the links below.
Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/9 to 2011/12
Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:32:00 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 2008/9 and 2011/12; a period when recession set in and continued to bite while the tightening of benefits and tax credits first kicked in. It is the second 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 a fifth between 2008/9 and 2011/12. Hardest hit have been single working age individuals, and within this group single people aged under 35 living on their own have seen a dramatic increase in their risk of having an income that is well below the Minimum Income Standard. The findings of the report confirm that young people, single people and people in private housing have done particularly badly relative to their minimum needs in recent years, in particular in terms of the numbers having to live on very low incomes. While families with children received some protection during the early years of the recession, from 2011 they have been hit by cuts in benefits and tax credits, and the risk of falling short of the MIS standard is starting to rise.
Minimum Acceptable Place Standards
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 09:15:00 GMT
A new report published today sets out the findings of research conducted by CRSP and the Centre for Housing Policy (University of York) exploring the possibility of consensual, publically agreed minimum standards for place. The research brought together groups of members of the public, from across different income groups, in cities, suburbs and rural locations. It set out to test the extent to which it was possible to establish a minimum acceptable place standard based on public consensus. In doing this it complements the on-going programme of work exploring Minimum Income Standards.
The research shows that it is possible to reach broad level agreement about what places need to have and be like in order to meet an acceptable minimum standard. This agreement is captured in the Minimum Acceptable Place Standards (MAPS) framework setting out the key domains and features that mean places reach this standard. The framework includes a number of services and facilities that people think should be within walking distance, such as primary schools, doctors and a community hub, and others up to twenty minutes away, such as hospitals and childcare.
Household costs and foster care
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 11:16:00 GMT
This report presents the findings of a project undertaken for the Fostering Network to develop robust information about the needs of foster families and the cost implications that these needs have for households. The different and additional needs in fostering households mean that the cost of providing a minimum socially acceptable standard of living for a foster child is higher than that of providing the same standard of living for a birth child of the same age.
The Cost of a Child in 2013
Mon, 19 Aug 2013 08:51:00 BST
The latest annual update of calculations of the additional cost of bringing up a child, based on the Minimum Income Standard, show that it now costs £148,000 to bring up a child, up 4 per cent since 2012. The cost of childcare and other expenses have been rising more rapidly than family incomes. As a consequence, families both in low-paid jobs and out of work are falling short of affording a minimum living standard, by a growing amount. The cap on uprating benefits and tax credits is systematically increasing this shortfall.
Does Universal Credit enable households to reach a minimum income standard?
Wed, 10 Jul 2013 12:59:00 BST
The Universal Credit is being introduced from 2013 to help people on low incomes to make ends meet, and to help make work pay. But how well does it achieve these objectives? This report looks in detail at the disposable income that households can obtain by working various hours on different wages, with the help of Universal Credit. It finds that UC helps make working households better off than those out of work. However, in many cases it traps people on low wages on incomes that are much lower than what they need as a minimum, and with little or no more disposable income if they work full time than part time.
This report breaks new ground in three ways. It looks at UC's effect on disposable income, taking account of the effect of working longer hours on childcare costs. It looks not just at work incentives but on the extent to which the families affected can reach an adequate income, using the Minimum Income Standard as a benchmark. Finally, the report compares the gains and losses made on the transition to Universal Credit with the effect of other recent changes in the adequacy of benefits and tax credits, to assess the overall extent to which households are better or worse off.
A Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland
Thu, 04 Jul 2013 11:15:00 BST
Our MIS team went to some of the most isolated parts of the UK to research minimum budget requirements in island and mainland areas of remote parts of Scotland. This report sets out additional costs there, arising from factors such as additional travel needs, higher heating costs and more expensive households goods and food. The project was commissioned by a coalition of public and third-sector organisations in the region, who are using the results to help develop practical solutions in efforts to create sustainable communities.
A minimum standard of living now costs a quarter more than in 2008
Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:35:00 BST
The latest annual Minimum Income Standard (MIS) results show a continuing squeeze on living standards for people on low incomes, as costs rise and incomes stagnate.
Since 2008, when the study was first undertaken, the price of an essential basket of goods and services has risen by 25%, compared to 17% for the Consumer Prices Index basket and average earnings increases of just 5%.
As a consequence, the income of people on benefits and on the National Minimum wage have fallen further behind MIS. This deterioration has continued in the past year, despite a record rise in tax allowances which has boosted buying power for those in work and paying tax. This gain has been outweighed by a combination of rising living costs and real-terms cuts in tax credits and child benefit, which hits families with children especially hard.
Donald Hirsch, author of this year's study, said: “From this April, for the first time since the 1930s, benefits are being cut in real terms by not being linked to inflation. The next election is likely to be the first in 84 years when living standards are lower than at the last one. Sadly, the families least able to adjust to this reduction are now feeling it hard."