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A project aiming to define an ‘adequate’ income in the UK has shown that the National Minimum Wage falls far short of what is required, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The organisation’s research is based on what members of the public think is enough money to live on, to maintain a socially-acceptable quality of life, examining changes in living costs and the tax and benefits system. It compares incomes on benefits and on the National Minimum Wage to the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ (MIS).

According to the JRF, the cost of a decent standard of living, as defined by the public, has stopped rising for the first time since the recession began – but the gap between people’s incomes and the amount they need to cover their essential costs has widened greatly since 2008.

The figures generated by MIS are used to calculate the Living Wage outside London and assess the impact of public policy on people’s living standards. JRF research has also used it to explore how far Universal Credit will help people reach an adequate income.

Of particular interest will be the following image, showing the lie being fed to us by the Conservative Government with its benefit cap. It seems a couple with two children need to receive £20,000 each to meet the Minimum Income Standard – while the Tories say £23,000 in total is enough.


For completeness, here’s the JRF’s graph showing how far short the system falls, for people on particular out-of-work benefits:


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