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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 27% of 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?

  • 41% of Londoners earn below the Minimum Income Standard. This means that 3.62 million Londoners can’t pay their bills and enjoy occasional basic social or leisure activities like going for a meal or joining a sports club
  • The cost of housing and childcare makes reaching a minimum income standard more difficult in London: While some costs in London are similar to other cities in the UK, housing and childcare are much more expensive. As a result, it costs between 15% and 56% more to reach a minimum decent standard of living in London than elsewhere in the UK.
  • Over a million children in London are growing up in households below the Minimum Income Standard: Children in lone parent homes are far more likely to be living in a household that can’t stretch to basic social activities.
  • Single working-age adults face the biggest difference in cost between living in London and living outside London: A lot of this is due to the fact that private rents in London are much higher than elsewhere in the UK.
  • More than a third of pensioners living in London have incomes below MIS: Across the rest of the UK, this figure is 21%.

Read the 2020 Minimum Income Standard report.