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Cost of living

Households below a Minimum Income Standard: 2008/09 - 2018/19

It's only right that everyone in our society can thrive and contribute; it’s wrong that low-income households are being held back from participating fully.

Written by:
Matt Padley and Juliet Stone
Date published:

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) reflects what members of the public think is needed for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in the UK today. This analysis monitors changes in the number of people in households with incomes below MIS. We all want to live in a society where everyone can thrive and contribute; it’s not right that low-income households are being held back from participating fully in our society.

Key messages

  • Three in ten (29.9% or 19.6 million) of us are living below MIS, up from 26.8% (16.2 million) in 2008/09.
  • Children living with a lone parent are far more likely to be in a household below MIS than those living in couple-parent families: 67.7% of children in lone-parent households are growing up with inadequate income compared to 35.1% in couple-parent households.
  • A quarter of all children in the UK in 2018/19 – 3.6 million – are living in households with incomes below 75% of MIS.
  • For single pensioners, the likelihood of living below MIS has increased substantially since 2008/09, from 15.8% to 27.4%, with women more likely to be living below MIS than men.
  • One fifth of working-age households below MIS (21.1%) are those where all adults are in full-time work.
  • One of the clearest trends over the decade analysed is the growing number of households who are still falling short of the income needed to meet their minimum needs, even though all the adults in them are in work.
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