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Cost of living

Falling short: the experiences of families below the Minimum Income Standard

More than one in three families in the UK now have incomes below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), a benchmark based on what the public agrees a household needs as a minimum to live on.

Written by:
Katherine Hill, Abigail Davis, Donald Hirsch and Lydia Marshall
Date published:

Their incomes are reckoned to be too low to allow the choices and opportunities required to participate fully in society. This report considers how:

  • families need stability, but this is undermined by irregular employment and hours, changes in benefits and tax credits, and insecurity in private rented housing;
  • coping on a low income involves constant monitoring of budgets, hard work and discipline, and how the stress of trying to keep on top of finances is emotionally draining;
  • parents prioritise meeting their children’s needs and sacrifice their own.

The study comprised in-depth interviews with 30 families on low incomes. A mix of lone parents and couples, in and out of work, were interviewed.

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