Falling short: the experiences of families below the Minimum Income Standard
A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation explores the experiences of families living below the Minimum Income Standard, a benchmark based on what the public agrees is the minimum a household needs to live on.
More than one in three families in the UK now have incomes below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). These incomes are considered too low to allow the choices and opportunities needed to participate fully in society.
The report considers how families need stability, but this is undermined by irregular employment and working hours. It also considers changes in benefits and tax credits, insecurity in private rented housing and how the stress of trying to keep on top of finances is emotionally draining.
The study comprises in-depth interviews with 30 families on low incomes. A mix of lone parents and couples, in and out of work, were interviewed. Many families face changing pressures that impact on their material and emotional wellbeing and this require them to make difficult decisions about what to prioritise.
Important factors include what level of costs parents face, whether they have support from friends and family, their own budgeting skills, and whether they can achieve a degree of stability. The report concludes with recommendations for policy makers in relation to benefits, child care and housing.