At a time of economic difficulties and cutbacks, many more people are concerned for their futures. The fact that the JRF website crashed (briefly) in the week we launched our updated Minimum Income Standard following 20,000-plus visits within hours, suggests the same.
People want to understand how public sector expenditure cuts and difficult financial times will affect themselves, their families, neighbours and communities. The Minimum Income Standard provides powerful evidence for the new Government to use about what ordinary people think is needed for an acceptable standard of living in our society.
We already know that people on low incomes – who can't opt out of state provision of services, whether education, health, transport or many other areas of life – will be harder hit when these public services are cut back.
We have considerable evidence (Monitoring poverty and social exclusion and Housing and neighbourhood monitor) and new research coming through to inform the decisions being made on policies by government, and others. We want these decisions to be informed by a debate that is bold and intelligent, realistic and compassionate. I am confident that JRF's evidence will help point to the fair and realistic goals for the long-term alleviation of poverty that this government is keen to deliver.
If economic trends continue to go against those already living close to the minimum income standard, decision-makers need to know how policy changes will impact on these people. Big rises in the prices of things like food and council tax mean many are already nearly £20 a week short of what they need to live a socially acceptable standard of living.
Our new Prime Minister has said that he wants to make sure the government looks after the worst-off in this country. We will continue to put forward evidence, ideas and solutions so that they can see the impact of the different options on the most vulnerable, and consider approaches that protect and deliver for disadvantaged people and places.
We will be providing regular updates here on emerging research and key facts relevant to the debate, together with some of the latest thinking on the challenges ahead.
Everyone knows that difficult decisions have to be made, but the poorest should not suffer disproportionately for the budget deficit.
And don't forget to look at our calculator – www.minimumincome.org.uk – to see whether your income meets the minimum income standard.