Annual update of Households Below the Minimum Income Standard: 2008-2021 published

Our latest analysis shows that in 2020-21, just more than 29.1% of individuals in the UK were living in households with incomes below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). This means that 19.2 million people do not have the income required to live with dignity in the UK: they are unable to afford the goods and services the public think you need to meet both material needs and participate in society.

Because of challenges with household income data for 2020-21, the report this year focuses in on:

  • income adequacy for all individuals in the UK
  • income adequacy for three key subgroups – children, working-age adults and pensioners
  • how the likelihood of being below MIS varies across geographical locations in the UK

It shows that:

  • the number of individuals below MIS has risen from 16.2 million in 2008-09 to 19.2 million in 2020-21
  • 40.0% of children are living in households with incomes below MIS; 29.2% of working-age adults are below MIS; and 15.4% of pensioners have insufficient income to cover their minimum needs.
  • The North East has the highest proportion of individuals living in households below MIS – 35.9% in 2019. In 2019, 53.2% of children in the North East were living in households with inadequate income.

A substantial proportion of those living in the UK continue to have incomes that fall short of meeting their minimum needs. This raises critical questions, looking forward, about how we build a society in which everyone is able to participate, to thrive rather than simply surviving.

Padley, M. and Stone, J. (2023) Households below the Minimum Income Standard: 2008-2021. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation