The 2021 update of the Minimum Income Standard shows that if planned cuts to Universal Credit go ahead in October, a single person who has lost their job will have only 33% of what they need to reach MIS, the lowest level yet recorded. This is at a time when many people are feeling particularly vulnerable, with the ending of the furlough scheme putting jobs at risk.
The report updates MIS to 2021, based on inflation, which has once more returned after a period of stable prices. It shows that thanks to improvements in the National Living Wage and Universal Credit, some families working on the NLW can get closer to reaching MIS than in the recent past, but this progress is threatened by the scheduled removal of the £20 increase in UC introduced in 2020.
The report also presents the findings of an initial study looking at the impact of COVID on what members of the public consider to be a minimum. It found that while the pandemic has profoundly affected people’s lives, the public continues to underline the importance of a stable income that allows people to participate fully in society. The study identified some areas of life that have changed during the pandemic, such as shopping and technology. It is possible that this will lead to significant changes affecting minimum budgets in the future, but it is too early to assess the long-term impact.