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Social security

A Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom in 2021

Our annual update of the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) shows a vision of living standards in the UK that we, as a society, think all of us should be able to access.

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

This report looks at whether people can reach current levels of MIS based on benefits, Universal Credit (UC) and the National Living Wage. It also looks at preliminary research on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The research shows that two urgent changes are needed to unlock millions of us being held back from reaching a minimum acceptable standard of living in 2021:

  • The Government should recognise the value of the additional support in helping families build better lives and keep the £20 a week, rather than take it away from the already precarious incomes of millions of families by cutting UC this October. It should also ensure people who are still receiving the legacy benefits that UC is replacing, many of whom are disabled or carers, are no longer excluded from this vital improvement to support.
  • As the UK rebuilds its economy in the wake of the pandemic, the Government should prioritise the creation of decent jobs, that provide stability, pay at least the real Living Wage, and give people options about working hours.

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