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Cost of living

A Minimum Income Standard for the UK 2008-2018: continuity and change

Our tenth annual Minimum Income Standard for the UK shows that rising costs are holding families back from achieving a decent minimum living standard, a decade on from the financial crisis.

Written by:
Abigail Davis, Donald Hirsch, Matt Padley and Claire Shepherd
Date published:

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) is based on what the public think we all need for a decent minimum living standard. This year’s update includes new research on what working-age adults and pensioners say is needed, and looks back at ten years of MIS research.

It shows that:

  • Minimum household budgets have risen by about a third since 2008 for most household types, and a half for pensioners, compared to a 25% rise in the Consumer Prices Index.
  • Many costs have remained stable, but some have changed substantially, restricting and restraining families on lower incomes. For example, transport costs have risen from around 10% to nearly 20% of minimum household budgets, other than for pensioners who receive free bus travel.
  • Technology is increasingly important as part of a social minimum. A laptop, broadband internet and a basic smartphone cost less today than paying for a landline telephone and a pay-as-you-go mobile did in 2008. Technology is also affecting minimum costs by enabling people to shop online and make price comparisons.


  • The Government could help three million low-income families to keep more of their earnings and improve their standard of living by increasing the Work Allowance under Universal Credit.

Use our updated Minimum Income Calculator to work out whether you earn enough for a decent standard of living.