Our publications - 2018
Defining and measuring housing affordability using the Minimum Income Standard Within the UK - and beyond - there is growing concern about a crisis in housing affordability, and this has renewed longstanding debate and discussion about what exactly constitutes ‘affordable’ housing. Alongside this concern, the increasing reliance of low income households on the private rented sector has created a growing interest in understanding the impact of housing costs on living standards. This new article builds on existing work and analysis on ‘residual income’ measures of housing affordability, accepting that what households can afford to pay for housing is related to their ability to cover other costs, and so not directly proportional to income. In the article we propose a new approach to both defining and measuring housing affordability, using the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). The article uses data from the Family Resources Survey (2008/09 to 2015/16) to examine housing affordability within the rented sector - both private and social - across the UK, exploring the value of this measure both in revealing the scale of the ‘problem’ and assessing the likely impact of suggested interventions. Padley, M. and Marshall, L. (2018) Defining and measuring housing affordability using the Minimum Income Standard. Housing Studies, DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2018.1538447
The affordability of legal proceedings for those excluded from eligibility for criminal legal aid This report was commissioned by the Law Society for inclusion in the Society's submission to the Ministry of Justice's review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). It considers whether people defending criminal proceedings in Magistrates' Courts and the Crown Court who are required by the criminal legal aid system to contribute to or pay fully for legal costs, based on their income, can always afford to do so while maintaining a minimum acceptable living standard. The report's central finding is that the means testing of legal aid is set at a level that can require people on low incomes to make contributions to legal costs that they could not afford while maintaining a socially acceptable standard of living. Hirsch, D. (2018) The affordability of legal proceedings for those excluded from eligibility for criminal legal aid. London: The Law Society
The Cost of a Child in 2018 The latest annual update of calculations of the additional cost of bringing up a child, based on the Minimum Income Standard, shows that it costs over £155,000 to pay for a child over 18 years. This year's report analyses the complex landscape of childcare costs, influenced by various types of public support, and the increasingly difficult situation confronting larger families due to the benefit cap and two-chid limit. Hirsch, D. (2018) The Cost of a Child in 2018. London: Child Poverty Action Group
A Minimum Income Standard for the UK, 2008-2018: continuity and change This is the tenth anniversary report of the Minimum Income Standard. It updates the research by reporting on a rebase of budgets for working age adults without children and for pensioners, as well as reviewing those for families with children. The report gives a detailed account of the budgets in 2018, how they have changed since 2008 and how this reflects changes in society. It also compares changes in the minimum income required with trends in disposable income over this period, focusing on households without work or in minimum-wage employment. Davis, A., Hirsch, D., Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2018) A Minimum Income Standard for the UK, 2008-2018: continuity and change. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Making Ends Meet Below the MIS families experiences over time This paper presents emerging findings from a longitudinal qualitative study with families living on incomes below the Minimum Income Standard. It reports on a second round of interviews with 18 families to provide an insight into their experiences of making ends meet over a two year period - how changes are experienced and managed, the extent of choice and constraint, what these mean for people’s incomes and lives. It highlights the impact of changes in employment and benefits, and how factors such as children’s transitions, the health of parents and children, and the presence of informal networks can interact with income to place more demands on a family budget or help to ease it. The research demonstrates how parents often deal with a range of simultaneous changes and demands. The interaction of different resources and demands can have positive and / or negative implications for people’s financial situation, but this is not necessarily linear – it can involve ups and downs and life for families on a low income can mean living in a state of flux. Hill, K. and Davis, A. (2018) Making Ends Meet Below the Minimum Income Standard: families’ experiences over time. Loughborough: Centre for Research in Social Policy.
Experiences of Living with Visual Impairment: matching income with needs This research explores the experiences of visually impaired people who are living on a low income and how they meet their needs. It follows a series of studies using the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) method to calculate the additional costs of living for visually impaired people (MIS VI) and analysis comparing these to benefit and minimum wage levels. This new research, through in-depth interviews with visually impaired people with incomes around or below MIS VI, provides an insight into the reality of their lives. It highlights how, although people prioritise meeting their basic material needs, social participation is extremely important but can be restricted when budgets are limited. Having enough income is important to maintain independence, agency and provide security, although resources such as formal and informal human support, access to services, organisations and appropriate technology can also be valuable. Potential barriers to meeting needs include poor health, lack of access to local facilities, transport or technology, and lack of knowledge about services, support, benefits or registration. As well as personal future uncertainties, the research reveals visually impaired people’s concerns and insecurity in the context of austerity regarding reassessment of benefits, social care and potential cuts to services. Hill, K., Shepherd, C. and Hirsch, D. (2018) Experiences of Living with Visual Impairment: matching income with needs. Loughborough: Centre for Research in Social Policy.
Priced out of Justice? Means testing legal aid and making ends meet The Law Society commissioned Donald Hirsch to write a report assessing the ability of people excluded from full legal aid to afford to contribute to their legal costs. The report shows that after years of making the legal aid means test more stringent, many people without enough money to afford a minimum standard of living are being denied access to legal aid. This appears to contravene a principle established by the Supreme Court that people should not have to choose between accessing justice and maintaining a minimum acceptable standard of living. The report sets out the calculations, based on the Minimum Income Standard and analysis of the legal aid means test. Hirsch, D. (2018) Priced out of Justice? Means testing legal aid and making ends meet. London: The Law Society.
Which Types of Family are at Risk of Food Poverty in the UK? A Relative Deprivation Approach Not enough is known in the UK about how economic phenomena and policy changes have impacted families’ ability to feed themselves. This article employs a novel way of identifying the types of UK families at risk of food poverty over time. Applying a relative deprivation approach, it asks what counts in the UK as a socially acceptable diet that meets needs for health and social participation and how much this costs. Comparing this to actual food expenditure by different family types, between 2005 and 2013, it identifies which are spending less than expected and may be at risk of food poverty. The analysis finds the proportion has increased over time for most family types and for lone parents and large families in particular. The discussion considers findings in light of changing economic and policy contexts and the implications for policy responses of how food poverty is defined and measured. O'Connell, R., Owen, C., Padley, M., Simon, A., and Brannen, J. (2018) 'Which Types of Family are at Risk of Food Poverty in the UK? A Relative Deprivation Approach', Social Policy and Society. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1474746418000015.
Child Poverty Map of the UK CRSP makes annual estimates of the percentage of children in poverty in constituencies, local authorities and wards throughout the UK, for the End Child Poverty Coalition. The estimate is based on HMRC and Labour Force Survey data. Valadez, L. and Hirsch, D. (2018) Child Poverty map of the UK January 2018. London: End Child Poverty Coalition.