Our publications - 2021
Staying home and getting on: Tackling the challenges facing low to middle income families where young adults live with their parents This is a final report in a study looking at the situation of low to middle income households where young adults live with parents – a stage of life that is becoming the norm for a growing proportion of households in the UK. The report draws on interviews with young adults and parents and consultation with stakeholders to explore the challenges, benefits and implications of living together. Without a ‘bank of mum and dad’ to help them move out, young adults’ options are constrained by high housing costs and insecure employment and income, with situations exacerbated by the pandemic. The research highlights that living together can be beneficial, helping young adults to save compared to living independently, but their financial contributions can also be vital to help keep parents afloat. However, tension around finances, lack of space and difficult relationships can cause pressure and talking about household finances can be hard. The research shows how aspects of the social security system can add to challenges faced by low income families with a ‘non-dependent’ child living at home, and the report provides recommendations for policy and practice. Hill, K., Webber, R. and Hirsch, D. (2021) Staying Home and Getting On: Tackling the challenges facing low to middle income families where young adults live with their parents. Edinburgh: abrdn Financial Fairness Trust
The Cost of a Child in 2021 The regular update on the cost of bringing up a child shows that it has grown to over £160,000 for a couple and over £190,000 for a lone parent. With prices rising and the £20 a week supplement to Universal Credit withdrawn, it has never been tougher for out of work families to keep up with children's costs. Hirsch, D. and Lee, T. (2021) The Cost of a Child in 2021. London: Child Poverty Action Group
The Impact of Covid-19 on thinking about and planning for retirement This report explores the impact of Covid-19 on views and expectations for retirement. It is based on research undertaken in the summer of 2021 with groups of retired people from across the UK. The research highlighted the importance of some central elements of public definitions of living standards, in particular choice and opportunity. When choice and opportunity are removed, as they have been at various points throughout this past eighteen months, there is a direct impact on people’s quality of life and well-being. This period of enforced abstinence serves to underline just how important it is to be able to participate in the world around, not through extravagant choices but in more everyday and routine ways. The research also shows that the pandemic has prompted people to think about their preparedness for retirement and whether or not they are likely to have the resources necessary to provide the living standard they want. Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2021) The Impact of Covid-19 on thinking about and planning for retirement. London: The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.
Retirement Living Standards in the UK in 2021 The latest UK Retirement Living Standards have been published by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association. These standards were developed in 2019 by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University and have been updated in 2021, to capture public thinking and expectations about retirement in contemporary UK. The standards describe the cost of three different baskets of goods and services, established through research with members of the public, setting out what the public agree to be realistic and relevant expectations for retirement. These baskets include household bills, food and drink, transport, holidays and leisure, clothing and social and cultural participation. The Retirement Living Standards set out three different publicly determined levels or lifestyles – minimum, moderate and comfortable. These are designed to help people think in concrete ways about the lifestyle they want when they retire, and to understand the cost of this. This new research is based on 13 online discussion groups with members of the public from across the UK including both retirees and those approaching retirement (55+) to determine changes to the baskets of goods. The research also makes use of the ongoing work to establish the Minimum Income Standard in the UK. Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2021) Retirement Living Standards in the UK in 2021. London: The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.
The cost of remoteness: Reflecting higher living costs in remote rural Scotland when measuring fuel poverty As part of its statutory fuel poverty measure, the Scottish Goverment and uses the Minimum Income Standard to calculate how much households need to have left after paying for fuel to meet their other spending needs. The legislation recognises that this amount is higher in remote parts of Scotland due to additional household costs, and commissioned CRSP to calculate the percentage 'uplift' that is needed for these areas. This report published by the Scottish Government presents the research and the results, showing that costs are mainly between 15% and 30% higher in remote rural Scotland than in urban parts of the UK, not including the additional cost of fuel itself. Davis, A., Bryan, A., Hirsch, D., Ellen, J., Shepherd, C. and Padley, M. (2021) The cost of remoteness. Reflecting higher living costs in remote rural Scotland when measuring fuel poverty. Edinburgh: Scottish Government
The Cost of Child Poverty in 2021 This paper updates an earlier estimate of the cost of child poverty to society. It shows that these costs include extra public spending to address the damage done by poverty to children and families, and future damage to national income as a result of the scarring effects on adults who experienced poverty during childhood Hirsch, D. (2021) The Cost of Child Poverty in 2021. Loughborough: Centre for Research in Social Policy
A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2021 The annual MIS update increases budgets to reflect inflation, which became significant again in 2021 after a period of stable prices. It analyses the incomes of people on out of work benefits and working on the National Living Wage relative to the Minimum Income standard. This year's report also gives findings from an initial study on how Covid has affected the way people live, in ways relevant to the minimum living standard described by MIS. This does not at present feed into MIS results, but this year's study helps frame the next rebases of MIS budgets taking place in 2022 and 2024. Davis, A., Hirsch, D., Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2021) A Minimum Income Standard in the UK for 2021. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The Cost of a Child in London Bringing up a child costs substantially more in London than elsewhere in the country, largely because of high childcare costs. This report for Child Poverty Action Group applies the cost of a child methodology, drawing on MIS data, to calculate minimum costs to families in Inner and Outer London. It finds that some families are being prevented from working by the low level of the cap on childcare support relative to London costs, but if they do not work they are highly likely to be penalised by the benefit cap, particularly if they live in private rented housing. Hirsch, D. (2021) The Cost of a Child in London. London: Child Poverty Action Group
A Minimum Income Standard for London 2020 The latest report on the Minimum Income Standard for London focuses on households with children, what these households need for a decent standard of living in the capital, and how this compares to elsewhere in the UK. The research, funded by Trust for London, brought together groups of parents in Inner and Outer London to discuss and detail what these households need in order to have a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in 2020. The additional costs of a minimum budget in London mean that a decent standard of living in the capital costs between 14% and 56% more. The largest difference is for single working-age adults, living alone in Inner London where the cost of housing in the private rental sector is so much higher than other urban areas in the UK. Padley, M., Davis, A., Shepherd, C. and Stone, J. (2021) A Minimum Income Standard for London 2020. London: Trust for London.
Household below a Minimum Income Standard: 2002/09 to 2018/19 The latest report in the Households below a Minimum Income Standard series is looking back over the ten year period from 2008/9 to 2018/19. The analysis, funded by JRF, looks at what has happened to the adequacy of incomes, measured by individuals’ ability to reach the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). Although there have been improvements in average household incomes at points over the last decade, in the past two years income growth has stalled and incomes have fallen for some. In tandem with rising costs and a continued freeze in working-age benefits (both in and out of work), this has resulted in an increase in the number of households below MIS for the first time since 2013/14. This means that the number below MIS remains higher than a decade ago for every group included in this analysis. Padley, M. and Stone, J. (2021) Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09 to 2018/19. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Seeking an anchor in an unstable world: experiences of low-income families over time This report presents the experiences of low-income families in the UK over a period of five years. The qualitative longitudinal research followed 14 families between 2015 and early 2020 - a time marked by austerity, benefits freezes and cuts, and increasingly insecure work – just before the COVID-19 crisis disrupted life in the UK. The research looks at what affects families’ incomes, costs and financial situations over time, what helps or makes it more challenging to make ends meet, and the consequences for families. It highlights the importance of stability for families for improving financial well-being and building resilience, but that living on a low income more often involved precarity with ups and downs over time. Families’ situations fluctuated with changes in work, benefits, health and family circumstances. While some families were at times ‘getting by’, and managing to keep up with outgoings, they were often working hard to keep their heads above water, and risked being pushed into deeper difficulty with limited financial back up. A follow-up study (reported separately) examines how COVID-19 has further affected their lives. Hill, K., and Webber, R. (2021) Seeking an anchor in an unstable world: experiences of low-income families over time. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York.
Staying afloat in a crisis: families on low incomes in the pandemic This research report looks at the impact of the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic for families with children living on low income. It explores how families experienced changes in their incomes, outgoings and dealing with new challenges such as home schooling, accessing different forms of support and wider considerations for health and wellbeing. Those already facing constraints and instability were more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic with fewer resources to fall back on. Holding onto work and a series of temporary lifelines helped some families to weather the storm. But the combination of reduced income from job loss, decreased hours or contributions from others, alongside increased costs, in particular food budgets with children spending more time at home could add to existing pressure. This report follows a longitudinal study which has been looking at these families experiences over the preceding five years (reported separately). Hill, K. and Webber, R. (2021) Staying afloat in a crisis: families on low incomes in the pandemic. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York.