Return to main page

How much do you need for a mininum acceptable living standard in Britain today?

A Minimum Income Standard for Britain is a major ongoing research project producing benchmark minimum standards for different family types. These show how much families need in order to afford to buy goods and services that members of the public, in detailed discussions, decide are needed for a minimum acceptable standard of living.

The initial research programme ran from 2006 to 2008, culminating in a widely-publicised initial report in July 2008. Having overseen the project as an adviser to its funder, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, I helped explain its findings to the press and public, for example in this interview on the BBC's Today Programme. Since October 2008, as Head of Income Studies at the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University, I have been leading the very capable team carrying out this work, with Noel Smith and Abby Davis doing most of the research and Nicky Selby and Sharon Walker providing admin support.

Our latest report updating the standard for 2009 shows that people on low incomes are currently facing a much higher than average rise in the cost of living.

Our team is now looking at how minimum requirements may differ in rural areas. We are hoping soon to review what effect the recession has had on attitudes to necessities. Our methods have been taken up in Ireland, and may soon be the basis of a major research project in France (watch this space).

Key findings

  • People in Britain agree that an acceptable living standard requires more than just basics such as food and shelter. 
  • Most people on basic benefits have too little to reach this standard. 
  • Pensioners do have enough, as long as they claim what they are enttitled to.
  • The minimum wage is rarely enough to reach an acceptable standard of living.
  • People living below the arbitrary "poverty line" of  60% median income are almost all below the minimum income standard
Calculate your own minimum income              Further information

Theme: Income and poverty