19 million living on inadequate income

A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that nearly a third of the UK population is living on an ‘inadequate’ income.

According to the report, the number of individuals below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) rose by four million, from 15 million to 19 million, which represents 30 per cent of the population.

The MIS, calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University, is a benchmark of adequate income based on what the public think people need for a minimum acceptable living standard in the UK. Much of this is related to rising housing costs, which the government has promised to tackle - identifying the families ‘just about managing’.

The foundation warns that ‘there is a fine margin’ between just about managing and poverty, with millions of families currently on the tipping point of falling into poverty as prices rise in the shops, with forecasts showing the cost of living could be 10 per cent higher by 2020.

Campbell Robb, chief executive at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “For a truly shared society, everyone should have the chance to live a decent and secure life. These stark figures show just how precarious life can be for many families. Government focus on people on modest incomes is welcome, but it cannot be at the expense of those at the poorest end of the income scale: it must remember just about managing today can become poverty tomorrow.

“This could be a very difficult time for just managing families as rising inflation begins to bite into finely-balanced budgets. The high cost of living has already helped push four million more people below an adequate income, and if the cost of essentials such as food, energy and housing rise further, we need to take action to ease the strain. The Government can help in next month’s Budget by allowing families to keep more of their earnings and ensuring benefits and tax credits keep up with the rising cost of living.”

Matt Padley, from the Centre for Research in Social Policy, added: “Our report has shown a steady growth in the numbers of people with too little income. Unfortunately the conditions to the end of the decade still look unfavourable for these groups. With forecasts of rising inflation, slowing wage growth combined with cuts to tax credits, the outlook is set to be highly challenging for families whose low incomes mean they are, at best, only just managing to make ends meet.”