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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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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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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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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Let’s get this straight: living wages and state support for families are complementary, not alternatives

Today, nearly 2000 accredited Living Wage employers will reiterate their commitment to pay workers a decent minimum – rising to £8.25 an hour based on CRSP’s calculations. The fact that the government’s new ‘National Living Wage’ will start at more than £1 below this in April, and has no reference to living costs, has caused […]

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The living wage is a good start, but for many families and individuals living in Birmingham challenges remain

Since Birmingham City Council adopted the living wage in July 2012, public sector workers in the city have seen a noticeable decrease in their risk of being paid below the living wage, but many working within the private sector continue to experience low pay and the challenges that this brings. Birmingham, as with other parts […]

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A statutory ‘living wage’ will be widely welcomed but does not stem the slide in living standards for many low income families

George Osborne today took the biggest step forward since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in 1999 to commit the government to tackling low pay. His announcement of a “Living Wage” of £7.20, rising to £9 by 2020, was more than just a rebranding and raising of the NMW. Crucially, it was an […]

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