Loughborough’s social policy centre marks 40th anniversary with pledge to continue improving people’s living standards

Four decades of improving living standards in the UK and around the world were celebrated as Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy marked its 40th anniversary.

Funders, partners, collaborators, policy makers, alumni and university staff got together at RSA House in London to reflect on the last 40 years of research and change related to UK poverty.

Colleagues from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Nuffield Foundation, Trust for London, Pensions and Lifetimes Savings Association (PLSA), Abrdn Financial Fairness Trust, Children’s Society and dozens of others attended the gathering as thank you for their continued support and collaborations.

The guests listened to the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings open the event before the centre’s co-directors Professors Abigail Davis and Matt Padley described the centre’s past, present and future endeavours.

Prof Jennings said: “This centre has really achieved longevity for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, it brings together creative and communications skills alongside technical and analytical approaches to try and find solutions to society’s big challenges.

“Second, the centre is focussed on big problems. Minimum income standards are important in the UK and other countries around the world as we grapple with our current cost of living crisis.

“Third, the centre is built on long-term partnerships. Our work with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has absolutely stood the test of time.

“For me, it’s a model for how universities can collaborate and achieve significant impact with state-of-the-art research and thought leadership.

“It’s a real pleasure to be able to talk about the centre because of those ingredients.”

The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) was established in 1983 by Professor Sir Adrian Webb.

Over the years, CRSP has strived to improve people’s lives through social policy change.

In 2008, researchers at CRSP published the first Minimum Income Standard (MIS) report, which sets out a basket of goods and services – agreed on by members of the public – that people should be able afford in order to live in dignity in UK.

Speaking at the event, CRSP co-director Professor Abigail Davis recalled its launch.

She said: “We had no idea when we set out, how complex and how challenging MIS was going to be.

“But I’ll never forget sitting in a hotel room watching the BBC’s 10 o’clock news on the night MIS was launched, and it being featured as the second item.

“Since then, we’ve published an update every year, and it’s gone from strength to strength.”

MIS is now used to calculate the Living Wage, which is paid by more than 13,000 UK employers – including Loughborough University.

Its application to life in rural Scotland also has a direct impact on how the Scottish government monitors fuel poverty.

Internationally, it has been adopted by countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and other parts of Europe.

The centre’s other work includes:

  • The cost of a child
  • Retirement Living Standards
  • Poverty at the end of life

Following Prof Davis to the stage at the event, was co-director Professor Matt Padley, who set out the centre’s vision for the future.

In September, the team at CRSP will also be one of seven organisations, worldwide, brought together to establish a living wage number for every country.

The initiative will be launched at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Prof Padley described ongoing work including the Minimum Digital Living Standard, which looks at what households with children need in order to participate in the digital world.

He reaffirmed the team’s dedication to striving for better living standards for all both nationally and internationally.

He said: “We're going to continue doing the same sorts of things. We're going to continue focusing on the important issues.

“We're going to continue talking about costs. Costs matter, costs affect what people are able to do.

“So, by looking at what people need, and how much that costs, we can contribute to the debate and the discussion about how we can help people meet those needs.

“Incomes matter too. Incomes from our social security system, that was set up to support people to, to provide a safety net, to stop people falling into destitution.

“It feeds into our healthcare as well.

“And what we effectively have now is a secondary welfare state where food banks and charities and benevolent funds are plugging that gap that the welfare state social security system used to do.

“And it's right that we stand up and say, ‘that's not good enough’.”

To mark 40 years of CRSP, Loughborough University has created a short series of video interviews with the centre’s researchers about the impact of their work.

To view the first of three episodes, tune in at midday on Monday 17 July.

You can set a 'Notify Me' reminder by visiting the Loughborough University YouTube channel.


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/108

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