Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Research in Social Policy

Centre staff

About Professor Donald Hirsch

I have spent nearly 40 years analysing social policy in the UK and internationally – as a journalist, OECD official, consultant to public organisations and charities, and an academic.  From 1998 to 2008, prior to joining CRSP, I was Poverty Adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and played a leading national role in monitoring Labour’s welfare reforms and efforts to cut child poverty.

At CRSP I oversee the Minimum Income Standard research, which produces on-going studies of what people need for an acceptable standard of living.  By combining this evidence with associated studies of life on a low income and evidence from large surveys, our team is well placed to show the impact of turbulent economic times and changing welfare policies on the ability of low income families to live adequately.  This allows me to produce regular commentary on policies as they unfold, and to make calculations influencing the national debate: in particular, I work closely with the Resolution Foundation to help calculate the Living Wage based on our research, make an annual assessment of the cost of a child, advise the growing number of charities who are using our research as a benchmark against which to give grants to households facing hardship, and lead an ongoing project estimating the additional cost of living in remote areas for the Scottish Government as part of its calculation of fuel poverty. 

As Associate Dean for Enterprise in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, I aim to support other academics in these fields to apply their research through partnerships with non-academics and to think about the impact it brings beyond academia.

Recent Publications

About Abigail Davis

I joined CRSP in 1998.  My key area of interest is the application and development of the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) methodology, which has been my focus since 2006.  I lead the management and delivery of the core primary research on MIS, working with the team to conduct deliberative groups, compile and price budgets and analyse the findings.  Using MIS as a starting point, my research has included looking at the additional and different costs of people in various locations, including households living in rural England, remote Scotland, London and the States of Guernsey, and studies on the needs of foster carers and people living with sensory impairments.

I design, develop and deliver bespoke training in MIS methods for researchers in other countries, including work with teams on MIS projects in Austria, France, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, Singapore and Thailand.

My main research interests include lifestyles and living standards, poverty, inequality and social exclusion, budget standards and income adequacy.

Recent Publications


About Katherine Hill

Since joining CRSP in 2001 my research has focussed predominantly on qualitative projects. Most of my research has been in the area of welfare policy, disadvantaged groups and low income with a particular interest in the perspectives of people themselves. I have worked on DWP policy evaluations including NDDP and LHA, and qualitative research on ageing looking at the needs and experiences of older people.  This included managing the Resources in Later Life project for JRF and Living on a Low Income in Later Life for Age UK. My more recent work has drawn on our Minimum Income Standards research to look at the additional needs and costs that some people face, and the experiences of those whose income falls below the MIS level. This includes a series of studies for Thomas Pocklington Trust exploring the additional costs of visual impairment for different age groups and what this means for everyday life, and a JRF funded longitudinal qualitative study looking at the experiences of families on living on a low income.

Recent Publications

About Matt Padley

I joined CRSP in 2009 and since this time I have led research relating to living standards, poverty and social exclusion in the UK and abroad, focusing on public conceptions and understanding of living standards, and how these can be used within public policy. Much of this research has centred around the application and development of Minimum Income Standard (MIS) approach, and I currently lead the quantitative elements of this ongoing work, oversee the management and application of MIS data and play a central role in liaison with users and stakeholders. I lead research on living standards in London and also lead the MIS Global Network, founded in 2018 to support MIS work across the globe, establish links with researchers in other countries and develop new collaborative projects. I deliver training in the MIS approach and its application internationally and have worked with colleagues on MIS projects in Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, Singapore and Thailand. I have a particular interest in exploring the application of the MIS approach in the global South.

I have pioneered work on Retirement Living Standards, building on the established MIS programme, that has been adopted across the UK pensions industry, providing an evidence base for savers thinking about and planning their retirements.

As an experienced qualitative and quantitative researcher, I have also worked on a wide range of other projects including national policy evaluations, secondary data analysis of large UK surveys and in-depth qualitative research with low-income households and individuals. I have advised and consulted for a wide range of organisations, including Birmingham City Council, the Money and Pensions Service, Oxfam and Unite the Union. My principal research interests are in understanding the patterns, causes and consequences of social disadvantage, particularly with regard to income, and my research has included work on living standards and income adequacy, housing affordability, poverty measurement and international conceptions of living standards.

Recent Publications

About Dr Claire Shepherd

I joined CRSP in August 2017 and I play a central role in the core Minimum Income Standards programme of research.  In addition to my work on MIS, I am a co-investigator of our research establishing retirement living standards in the UK.  I have also undertaken qualitative research investigating Minimum Income Standards for people with visual impairment and have worked on the MIS in London project.

I was awarded my PhD in Social Statistics in May 2015 from the University of Manchester and my doctoral thesis comprised an investigation of gender role attitude change over time and comparison of welfare state regimes across Europe.  Prior to this I gained an MSc in Sociological Research and a First Class degree in Sociology both at the University of Manchester.  Before starting my doctoral studies, I worked for a year as a research assistant at the European Work and Employment Research Centre (EWERC) at the University of Manchester, where I contributed to a European Commission funded project exploring minimum wages and collective bargaining across Europe.  I also contributed to a European Commission Network of Excellence project investigating women’s representation across the boards of UK listed companies. 

After completing my PhD, I worked for more than two years as a researcher at the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby.  While at iCeGS, I conducted a wide range of applied quantitative and qualitative research exploring themes around career education and employability.  


Recent Publications

  • Davis, A., Hirsch, D., Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2020) A Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom in 2020. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Padley, M. and Shepherd, C. (2019) Developing Retirement Living Standards. London: The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.
  • Padley, M., Davis, A., Shepherd, C. and Stone, J. (2019) A Minimum Income Standard for London 2018. London: Trust for London.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shepherd, C. (2017) ‘The gender and age profile of the house-building sector’, Milton Keynes: NHBC Foundation.
  • Adams, L., Tindle, A., Basran, S., Dobie, S., Thomson, D., Robinson, D. and Shepherd, C. (2017) ‘Experiences of Education, Health and Care plans. A survey of parents and young people. Research report March 2017’. London: Department for Education
  • Shepherd, C. and Hooley, T. (2016) ‘They’ve got their backs to the sea’: Careers work in Kent’s coastal schools. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.
  • Artess, J. and Shepherd, C. (2016). ‘H.E. Careers & Employability Services’ use of resources: Summary report’. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.
  • Hooley, T., Shepherd, C. and Dodd, V. (2015). ‘Get yourself connected: conceptualising the role of digital technologies in Norwegian career guidance’. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby
  • Shepherd, C. and Elliot, M. (2015) ‘Deriving a measure of gender role attitudes using data from the European Values Study’, University of Manchester: CMIST Working Paper, October 2015.
  • Teasdale, N., Fagan, C. and Shepherd, C. (2012) ‘Women’s representation on the boards of UK listed companies’ in C. Fagan, M. Gonzales Menendez and S. Gomez Anson (Eds.) ‘Women in Management: European Employment Policy’, London: Palgrave Ltd.
  • Grimshaw, D., Shepherd, C. and Rubery, J. (2010) ‘Minimum wage systems and changing industrial relations in Europe: National UK Report’ report prepared for VS/2009/0159 (EWERC, University of Manchester) for the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

About Dr Juliet Stone

I completed my doctoral research in 2009 at Imperial College, London where I investigated the measurement of life-course socioeconomic position and its relationship with health outcomes. I also hold an MSC in Social Research Methods with Statistics from City University, London and a BA in Media Studies from the University of Sussex.

In 2009 I joined the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) as a Research Fellow, where my work involved quantitative analysis of large, cross-sectional and longitudinal datasets such as the Labour Force Survey, the English Survey of Housing, Understanding Society (the UK Household Longitudinal Study), and the General Household Survey. I worked on a variety of CPC projects including work on leaving and returning home in young adulthood in the UK and transitions to living alone in later life. I also investigated women’s economic activity over the life course as a predictor of health in later life and a project examining the role of economic uncertainty in predicting the fertility behaviour of men and women. During this period, I developed a particular interest in housing policy and the ways in which this can affect the choices and constraints people face in various aspects of their lives.

I joined CRSP in June 2018. My work is focussed mainly on quantitative analysis, including analysing data from the Family Resources Survey for the annual Households Below a Minimum Income Standard report. However, I have also been involved in aspects of the qualitative programme of work, including supporting the collection of focus group data for calculation of the  Minimum Income Standard for London

My research interests stem from a broad focus on understanding the consequences of differential socioeconomic circumstances from a life course perspective. More specifically, my interests include family and household dynamics; health inequalities and the social implications of housing policy. I also have an ongoing interest in longitudinal research methods.

Recent Publications

  • Dr Ruth Webber BA (Hons), MA, PhD
  • Research Associate
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  • Room U1.28, Brockington Building

About Dr Ruth Webber

I joined CRSP in December 2019 and am currently involved in two projects.  These include the final wave of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded longitudinal study: Bringing Up a Family examining the impact of low income on bringing up a family over time, and the Standard Life funded project, investigating the current and future economic well-being of low-to-middle-income families comprising adults in their 20s living with their parents.

I was awarded my PhD from the School of Museum Studies at Leicester University in January 2019.  My doctoral research used ethnographic and participatory visual methods to explore and understand the everyday home-making practices of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women living in Glasgow.  I utilised the training received in my Masters in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester, for which I was awarded a merit in October 2014.  I received a First Class degree in Anthropology and Media from Goldsmiths University in 2011, and have been deeply interested in understanding how inequalities shape our everyday lives from the beginning of my academic career.  

Whilst completing my PhD, I worked as a Research Associate at the University of Manchester on a secondary qualitative longitudinal ESRC-funded study looking at the experience of ‘ageing in place’ over time.  I have made use of a wide range of qualitative methods in my research to date, and have honed my research interests and expertise in inequalities, urban studies, belonging, home and migration.

Recent Publications

About Lisa Jones

I provide administrative support for the Centre’s projects. This includes general administration tasks such as formatting reports, documents and presentations as well as managing the diaries of the research team. Project administration includes booking travel and accommodation, arranging meetings and advisory groups when required and organising all requirements for any fieldwork taking place.

I am also responsible for the day to day finances of the Centre and its projects.

About Nicola Lomax

I have worked at CRSP since 2000 and provide administrative support the centre’s projects. This includes general administration tasks such as formatting reports, documents and presentations as well as managing the diaries of the research team. With regards to project administration, this can include booking travel and accommodation, arranging meetings and advisory groups when required and organising all requirements for any fieldwork taking place.

I am also responsible for the Centre's publicity, in the form of updating the centre’s website, Twitter and Facebook pages.


Centre for Research
in Social Policy

Department of Social Sciences
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

+44 (0)1509 223372