Centre for Research in Social Policy

School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

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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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Time to start fixing the broken safety net that no longer catches struggling families

Families on low incomes are once again bearing the brunt of a tough economic environment. Over the past decade, rising costs of items such as food, energy and childcare, combined with stagnating wages and cuts in benefits, have repeatedly put a squeeze on family budgets.  Between 2014 and 2016, some of these pressures eased, as […]

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A minimum income standard has been defended by the highest court in the land

The Supreme Court’s landmark judgement abolishing fees for employment tribunals has been rightly hailed for its championing of access to justice for workers, in the context of labour laws having tilted the scales increasingly against them in recent years. It also has much wider implications, including the linking in the judgement of powerlessness at work […]

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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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