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The Minimum Income Standard London

Christian Cross two girls holding money in Peckham

We know that too many people in London don’t have enough to get by, and that around 1 in 4 Londoners live in poverty. But even people who don’t live in poverty can struggle to afford a decent lifestyle.

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) is a measure of what a person needs to earn in order to reach an acceptable standard of living. We fund Loughborough University to carry out research into the minimum income needed for a decent standard of living in London.

How does it work?

MIS research is based on detailed conversations about the goods and services needed for households to reach a ‘minimum socially acceptable standard of living.’ In other words, how much do you need to cover essential bills but also take part in some basic social activities – for example, going out for an occasional meal?

The research looks at 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 takes into account ‘basic social and cultural participation’ - that is, taking part in activities, having one low-cost holiday in the UK per year, giving presents and some modest meals out. These kinds of activities are an important part of what we consider a decent standard of living.

What have we learnt so far?

  • Around 4 in every 10 people living in London (39%) have an income below what is needed for a minimum standard of living - compared to 28% in the UK as a whole in 2019-20.
  • 3.49 million Londoners are living in households with inadequate incomes, including 1m children
  • For single working-age adults in Inner London, it costs 66% more than their counterparts in the rest of the UK. This gap has increased over time.
  • A single, working adult in London now needs to earn 30% more for a decent standard of living than in 2020, the last time we carried out this research.
  • 48% of children living in London are in households with incomes below what they need for a decent living standard, compared to 40% in the UK in the same year. Nearly three quarters (73%) of children in lone parent households are living below MIS.
  • Just more than a third of pensioners living in London (35%) have incomes below MIS, compared to 17% in the UK.
  • Three-quarters of individuals in the capital with incomes below MIS (74%) are living in rented accommodation.

Read the 2022 Minimum Income Standard report.