Minimum Income Standard

60 second overview

The Minimum Income Standard measures the level of income needed for what the public regard as a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. This latest Minimum Income Standard London (MIS) research shows that 4 in 10 Londoners can’t afford a minimally decent standard of living. This is 3.6 million Londoners.

What's the issue?

Many Londoners do not have what they need to get by. 27% of Londoners live in poverty, and over 1 in 5 employees are low-paid. But even people who are not living in poverty, according to the definition used in London’s Poverty Profile, can still be struggling to afford a decent, basic lifestyle.

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) series looks at what the public consider to be a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. The 2018 report found that 4 in 10 Londoners (41%) cannot reach that level, compared to 3 in 10 people in the UK as a whole (29%).


Do you earn enough for a minimum decent standard of living in London? Find out with our Interactive MIS Calculator.

What are we doing?

We fund the Minimum Income Standard London research series with Loughborough University. The first edition of which was published in 2016.

MIS is based on detailed discussions with members of the public about the goods and services needed for households to reach a minimum socially acceptable standard of living, which covers essentials and enables participation in society.

The research incorporates the public’s views of how much is needed to meet costs such as food, housing, fuel costs, household goods, childcare and transport. It also looks at basic social and cultural participation, which is an important part of what the public consider a minimum living standard. This includes the opportunity to take part in activities, to have one low-cost one week holiday in the UK per year, to give presents, and to have some modest meals out. 

What have we learnt?

Here are some key findings from the 2018 Minimum Income Standard Report. 

41% of Londoners have an income below the MIS.

This is compared to 29% in the UK as a whole.

Higher living costs such as housing and childcare make reaching an MIS more expensive in London.

While some costs in London are similar to other urban areas in the UK, others such as housing and childcare are much more expensive. Consequently, it costs between 27% and 60% more to reach a minimum decent standard of living in Inner London than in the rest of the UK and between 15% and 36% more in Outer London.

Over half of London’s children live below the MIS threshold.

Children are the most likely to be below the MIS threshold, with 51% currently below this threshold. iThis is compared to 43% of children in the UK as a whole. This is 1 million children.

Over three quarters of Londoners below MIS are in rented accommodation

1.3 million Londoners below the MIS are renting privately, and 1.4 million from a social landlord.

Single working-age adults face the largest difference in cost between living in London and living outside London.

When rent and childcare costs are included, single working-age adults need budgets of 60% more to live in Inner London and 36% more to live in Outer London, than single working-age adults in other urban UK centres.

Around a third of pensioners living in London have incomes below MIS.

This is compared to 16% for the UK.

Where can I find out more?


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