Centre for Research in Social Policy

School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

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New ideas will be needed if the next PM is to help those facing the toughest summer

Later this month, we can expect our new Prime Minister to enter Downing Street with a promise to bring the country together and help those who are struggling. David Cameron made his entry speaking of fairness and his desire to ‘help the poorest’; Theresa May of helping the ‘just about managing’. The current frontrunner sees […]

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The trend of rising child poverty towards record levels is now beyond dispute

In 1999, Tony Blair promised to abolish child poverty by 2020. In that year, 3.3 million children were in poverty on the government’s preferred measure. By 2010, this was down by a million, after the longest sustained fall in child poverty ever recorded. Today’s poverty figures show the reversal of that trend accelerating. By 2017/18, […]

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Thousands of employers are paying a £9 living wage! Pinch yourself, then watch carefully what happens next

Twenty years ago next April, after a century resisting the idea, the UK Government finally brought in a compulsory minimum wage of £3.60 an hour.  That’s either £5.30 or £6.20 an hour in today’s prices (depending on which inflation index you believe).  This felt pretty low, but at least outlawed the lowest wages paid in […]

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Is this the moment to call time on Universal Credit, a decade on?

The past week’s whirlwind of critique of Universal Credit is quite overwhelming because it brings together so many different kinds of problem, each with a large impact on the lives of low income families. Some are to do with delays people have already experienced by new claimants and the huge suffering that will cause if […]

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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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I’m pleased that charities are using the Minimum Income Standard as their principal means test, but worried that they are having to fill in for failing state support

In the past couple of months, I have been talking to people in a fascinating world that most of us are at best vaguely aware of: the world of benevolent charities, who give financial help to eligible individuals in need. Many of these charities are now using our Minimum Income Standard to help them decide […]

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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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Public policy is becoming ever more skewed in trying to focus on “deserving” groups

The evidence is piling up: most people on low incomes will have been made much worse off in the course of this decade. Most depressingly, the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that the child poverty rate, which saw a sustained fall in the New Labour years, from 34% to 27% after housing costs, will have […]

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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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