How much is enough to live on? This is the question the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) sets out to answer. It is the result of extensive work looking at what people think a minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK today should be.
How do we do this? We explore every aspect of what people need to be able to afford in order to meet this standard. This isn’t a technical exercise for a panel of academics looking at dry data. Instead we hold lengthy consultation and debate with ordinary members of the public from a range of backgrounds, ages and income groups, and combine this with expert knowledge on technical issues like nutrition and heating.
Why do we do it? The research findings do not just make for interesting headlines, but let people make detailed calculations to estimate the minimum needs of individual households, using an online calculator. These detailed findings are much more than just numbers. Our website shows the real things that can be bought with a minimum income - everything from socks to sausages, bikes to birthday presents, for everyone from toddlers to pensioners. And with annual updates and regular new research, MIS is an evolving instrument that moves with the times.
Although social security systems have yet to adopt MIS as a benchmark below which no one should fall, some charities on the frontline helping vulnerable people have adopted it as a fair and consistent way of addressing the ‘how much is enough?’ question. They use the Minimum Income Calculator to assess the needs of people who apply to them for help, and to calculate how much they will award them.
With a new focus on the voluntary sector as an important provider of assistance and support, the Minimum Income Standard will be a vital resource offering useful answers to many more in the years to come.