Centre for Research in Social Policy

School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

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Five things that official inflation figures don’t tell you about the minimum cost of living

Over the past ten years, median household income has risen by about 28%, while the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) shows inflation running at 25%. So while living standards have stagnated, they at least appear to be up a bit on their pre-recession level. Such statistics give us a broad picture of how households are doing […]

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Using the Minimum Income Standard as a criterion for fair access to justice has profound implications for its status as a national standard

Today, the Law Society is publishing my report that asks a simple question about the way people are assessed for eligibility for civil legal aid. Can those denied full legal aid because of their income afford to pay for their own legal advice and services? The criterion for considering affordability is whether such costs can […]

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For the less well off half of families, budgets continue to take away, not give away

In today’s Budget, Philip Hammond repeated the mantra that the Government wants “to help families cope with the cost of living”, and even acknowledged that short term relief from the assault on living standards needs to parallel long-term investment to improve productivity and housebuilding. But he conspicuously avoided repeating previous references to “just about managing” […]

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#YOLO: Millennials are buying experiences but are not necessarily better off

Millennials (individuals born between 1981 and 2000) are often portrayed as living short term and therefore spending on immediate rewards – eating out, social events, travels – rather than on investing on long-term possessions, like housing. In the end, ‘YOLO – You Only Live Once’. I am a millennial; I eat out, I go to […]

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Losing on the swings and losing on the roundabouts

The past five years have seen ups and downs for wage earners, in terms of average pay keeping up with inflation.  After dipping in the recession, real pay started to rise again in 2014.  The main beneficiaries were private sector workers, although when inflation hit zero even those affected by the 1% public sector pay […]

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London rents might be ‘falling’ for some, but a minimum decent standard of living still costs substantially more in the capital

Over the past few years, good news about housing, particularly the cost of renting in the private sector, has been in short supply. So it is little surprise that recent figures compiled by Countrywide, suggesting a fall in private rents across the UK, with a significant fall in the capital, were seized upon as representing […]

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An autumn statement that only just about managed to distribute some jam

Both the tone and content of Philip Hammond’s first budgetary statement belied the mood music of the past few weeks: that Theresa May’s government will do much more to help just about managing families – dubbed the “JAMs”. It continued in a modest way some policies of its predecessor: freezing fuel duty; promising more social […]

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Is a compulsory “real” living wage really a good idea?

British political attitudes to compulsory minimum wages have undergone an astounding transformation. A generation ago, any sort of minimum was viewed with suspicion not just by free-market economists but also by many in the labour movement. The former argued that unaffordable wages would cost jobs. The latter knew that negotiation through collective bargaining had a […]

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Ten years of parenting – a perspective on what children need

I’ve spent much of the last 10 years listening to parents discussing what they think children need.  Our Minimum Income Standards research regularly asks groups of parents to agree what is required in a family budget for a minimum acceptable standard of living .  As both a researcher and a parent it’s been fascinating to […]

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“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living, barely getting by …”

Record rates of employment and small increases in pay have not halted the increase in the number of those in work living on incomes below what they need, particularly working families with children. In recent years the phrase ‘hard-working families’ has figured prominently both in defining and defending ‘difficult’ policy decisions. The programme of welfare […]

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