Centre for Research in Social Policy

School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

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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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Will low income families’ ability to afford the necessities of life stop declining?

The mood music on welfare cuts may finally be changing. The new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green has explicitly sought to distance himself from the stance of the past six years by stating that there ‘will be no new search for cuts in individual welfare benefits’.  The cuts of the past few years have […]

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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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Bringing up a family on a low income involves chances and choices

Campaigners seeking to draw attention to the worst effects of hard times on family poverty rightly cite the growing use of food banks to illustrate severe deprivation in the UK. But while about 200,000 children were in families using foodbanks last year, about 30 times this number – six million children – were on low […]

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It’s tough down south – Is it time to revive London weighting?

When I started my working life in London in the 1980s, there was some concept that London Weighting was a standard entitlement at a standard level that broadly reflected the additional cost of living in the capital city. Today, it’s become a patchy entitlement at all sorts of levels, but generally not coming close to […]

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The new National Living Wage marks a turning point in policy for low income working families

Today (1 April) sees the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW): a compulsory £7.20 an hour for over-25s. Some see this as little more than a clever piece of branding by George Osborne a supplement to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), initially set at 50p an hour.  Its level today falls well short of […]

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Will a £9 National Living Wage promise be sustained?

The trouble with long-term political pledges is that they often get taken over by short-term economic swings. Last July, most of us were rather stunned by George Osborne’s pledge of a £9 ‘National Living Wage’ by 2020.  This figure was not quite plucked out of thin air: it’s based on the aim of setting it […]

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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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The cost of living with sight loss is higher not just if it’s more severe but also if you’re older

Our previous study for Thomas Pocklington Trust began to look at the extra costs of living at a minimum acceptable standard for people with sight loss.  It showed how for people of working age, being sight impaired adds around £49 to a minimum weekly budget.  This result was for the case of someone eligible to […]

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Facing up to the realities of a citizen’s income

Like many very simple ideas, a ‘Citizen’s Income’ only becomes complicated when you think through its implications.  This fact at least was illuminated in a worthwhile debate I had on Radio 4 Moneybox with some of CI’s advocates. The idea of a Citizen’s Income is that a single, unconditional flat-rate payment for each adult and […]

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