School of Social Sciences

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Households below a Minimum Income Standard

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 individuals’ ability to reach the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), between 2008/09 and 2015/16. It is the sixth in an annual series of reports tracking the total number of individuals in the UK living below the MIS threshold.

The report shows that in 2015/16, 30% of individuals were in households below MIS, an increase of a fifth since 2008/09. This means that there were 19 million people with household incomes insufficient to afford the things that the public think are needed to meet material needs and participate in society, up from 15.6 million in 2008/09. The likelihood of being in a household that has an income below MIS is three times higher for children than pensioners: 44% compared to 15% . All groups, including working age adults, have seen the likelihood of falling below MIS increase since 2008/09.

In the middle of the present decade, there was some reduction in the number of working age adults and children below MIS, at a time when earnings were rising and prices were stagnant. However, this meant only a slight reduction in the overall increase of people below MIS since 2008, and the return to inflation combined with falls in real wages and a freezing of benefits are expected to cause further deterioration in future years. Meanwhile, the number of pensioners below MIS, while low relative to working age people, has been rising, linked to an increase in pensioner costs.