Centre for Research in Social Policy

Last updated
Centre for Research in Social Policy
HeadquartersLoughborough University
Official language
Donald Hirsch
Website crsp.ac.uk

The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) is a self-funding research centre based within the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University in the market town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, in the East Midlands, England.


CRSP conducts research in the field of social policy and aims to improve the quality and flow of information on which policy decisions are made.

The current Director of CRSP is Donald Hirsch. [1]

Research themes

The Centre specialises in applied social policy research and policy analysis on issues around minimum income, poverty, and living standards. CRSP’s core research programme is the Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom (MIS).

Regular outputs

Minimum Income Standard.

Minimum Income Standard (MIS) refers to how much disposable income households need in order to achieve an adequate standard of living. [2] [3]

CRSP regularly conducts a calculation of this standard for UK households. The MIS research and its analysis and dissemination is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. MIS takes into account differences in household needs and in social opinion of what a decent standard of living is. The calculation of the MIS is based on detailed research with groups of members of the public. Experts on nutrition and heating are consulted to ensure budgets provide adequately for healthy living. Calculations are updated annually, based on inflation, and reviewed every two years, based on new research, to reflect changing social norms. [4]

Projects adopting the MIS method are currently being undertaken in the Republic of Ireland, [5] France, [6] Japan, [7] Portugal and Austria. CRSP is now exploring the use of MIS in Mexico, South Africa and Thailand.

CRSP provides a Minimum Income Calculator. [8]

Calculation of the Living Wage.

MIS is the basis for calculating the Living Wage rate used by the Living Wage Foundation as the basis for accrediting Living Wage employers. Up to 2015, CRSP calculated the out-of-London rate, based on the wage that households needed in order to have a minimum acceptable standard of living. [9] In 2016, the Living Wage Commission endorsed a new, independent method for setting rates in London and in the rest of the UK, using MIS to measure living costs in both cases. [10]

Universal Credit.

MIS is also used to monitor the impact of Universal Credit. [11]

The Cost of a Child.

This research project calculates the cost of raising a child in the United Kingdom. Results indicate that childcare and other expenses in the United Kingdom have been rising more rapidly than family incomes. As a consequence, families both in low-paid jobs and out of work are falling further short of affording a minimum living standard. This project is funded by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Households Below Minimum Income Standard.

CRSP has analysed the Family Resources Survey to estimate the number of households in different groups with disposable incomes below MIS and below a certain percentage of MIS.

Examples of recent studies

A Minimum Income Standard for London.

This study looks at how differences between life in the capital and the rest of the country affect the minimum cost of living. Using focus groups to identify what additional or different requirements Londoners have from other people in the UK, this project also includes research on price differences to determine a socially acceptable standard of living for London. As of 2017 this research will be used to determine the London living wage.

Minimum Income Standard for people who are sight impaired and people who are deaf.

This research, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, begins to fill the gap in knowledge about the true financial cost of disability for households. CRSP is continuing this work to look at the effects of level of impairment and life stage.

Bringing up a family: Making ends meet.

This project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, augments work on Households Below Minimum Income Standard and the Cost of a Child analysis. The research furthers understanding about the financial challenges that families living below MIS face, drawing on in-depth interviews held in urban and rural locations in the south west, midlands and north west of England with parents in households whose income is between 50 and 90 percent of MIS.

The Costs of Fostering.

Based on the MIS methodology, this project explores the costs of fostering for four age groups of children (infant, preschool, primary school and secondary school). [12]

Examples of past studies

During the 1990s, CRSP pioneered research on consensual budget standards. Since then, research has concentrated on living standards and income and in evaluating the impact of social benefits on living conditions. Some of the most relevant projects have been:

Family Fortunes: pressures on parents and children in the 1990s. [13]

This was an early example of developing a “consensual” budget standard, applied to the needs of children.

Small Fortunes: Spending on children, childhood poverty and parental sacrifice. [14]

Published in 1997, the Small Fortunes Survey was the first ever nationally representative survey of the lifestyles and living standards of British children.

Local Housing Allowance. [15]

As part of a consortium, CRSP evaluated the Local Housing Allowance Pathfinders for the Department for Work and Pensions.


The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) was founded in 1983 by Professor Sir Adrian Webb. CRSP’s main funding source when the Centre was founded was the Department of Health.

In 1990, following the appointment of Professor Robert Walker as Director, CRSP expanded its research interests and its funding base. It took on a range of large government evaluations as well as carrying out research on lifestyles and living standards. In the early 2000s, the Centre had up to 27 staff.

In 2012, following a change in the funding environment and the development of MIS, the Centre reoriented itself to become smaller and more focused on income and living standards.


Related Research Articles

A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their employees—the price floor below which employees may not sell their labor. Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation by the end of the 20th century. Because minimum wages increase the cost of labor, many companies try to avoid minimum wage laws by using gig workers, moving labor to locations with lower or nonexistent minimum wages, or by automating job functions.

Poverty threshold Minimum income deemed adequate to live in a specific country or place

The poverty threshold, poverty limit, poverty line or breadline, is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a particular country. Poverty line is usually calculated by finding the total cost of all the essential resources that an average human adult consumes in one year. The largest of these expenses is typically the rent required for accommodation, so historically, economists have paid particular attention to the real estate market and housing prices as a strong poverty line affect. Individual factors are often used to account for various circumstances, such as whether one is a parent, elderly, a child, married, etc. The poverty threshold may be adjusted annually. In practice, like the definition of poverty, the official or common understanding the poverty line is significantly higher in developed countries than in developing countries.

Guaranteed minimum income (GMI), also called minimum income, is a social-welfare system that guarantees all citizens or families an income sufficient to live on, provided that certain eligibility conditions are met, typically: citizenship; a means test; and either availability to participate in the labor market, or willingness to perform community services.

Living wage

A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet his or her basic needs. This is not the same as a subsistence wage, which refers to a biological minimum. Needs are defined to include food, housing, and other essential needs such as clothing. The goal of a living wage is to allow a worker to afford a basic but decent standard of living through employment without government subsidies. Due to the flexible nature of the term "needs", there is not one universally accepted measure of what a living wage is and as such it varies by location and household type. A related concept is that of a family wage – one sufficient to not only support oneself, but also to raise a family.

National Energy Action (NEA) is a fuel poverty charity that works to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor or vulnerable gain affordable heat.

Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree, CH was an English sociological researcher, social reformer and industrialist. He is known in particular for his three York studies of poverty conducted in 1899, 1935, and 1951.

Working poor

The working poor are working people whose incomes fall below a given poverty line due to low-income jobs and low familial household income. These are people who spend at least 27 weeks in a year working or looking for employment, but remain under the poverty threshold.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is charity which conducts and funds research aimed at solving poverty in the UK. JRF's stated aim is to "inspire action and change that will create a prosperous UK without poverty."

Peter Townsend (sociologist)

Peter Brereton Townsend was a British sociologist. The last position he held was Professor of International Social Policy at the London School of Economics. He was also Emeritus Professor of Social Policy in the University of Bristol, and was one of the co-founders of the University of Essex. He wrote widely on the economics of poverty and was co-founder of the Child Poverty Action Group. The Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize was established by the British Academy in his memory.

The basic needs approach is one of the major approaches to the measurement of absolute poverty in developing countries. It attempts to define the absolute minimum resources necessary for long-term physical well-being, usually in terms of consumption goods. The poverty line is then defined as the amount of income required to satisfy those needs. The 'basic needs' approach was introduced by the International Labour Organization's World Employment Conference in 1976. "Perhaps the high point of the WEP was the World Employment Conference of 1976, which proposed the satisfaction of basic human needs as the overriding objective of national and international development policy. The basic needs approach to development was endorsed by governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from all over the world. It influenced the programmes and policies of major multilateral and bilateral development agencies, and was the precursor to the human development approach."

Affordable housing Housing affordable to those with a median household income

Affordable housing is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below as rated by the national government or a local government by a recognized housing affordability index. Most of the literature on affordable housing refers to mortgages and number of forms that exist along a continuum – from emergency shelters, to transitional housing, to non-market rental, to formal and informal rental, indigenous housing, and ending with affordable home ownership.

A significant portion of the population of the United Kingdom are considered to be in poverty under some measures of poverty.

A family wage is a wage that is sufficient to raise a family. This contrasts with a living wage, which is generally taken to mean a wage sufficient for a single individual to live on, but not necessarily sufficient to also support a family. As a stronger form of living wage, a family wage is likewise advocated by proponents of social justice. Family wage campaign was aiming to maintain the traditional family structure, as a concept connecting economics and family structure it is one of the examples of how economic structure of family, which is a subject of the field family economics, affects overall economy beyond the family.

The economic impact of undocumented immigrants in the United States is challenging to measure, and politically contentious. Research shows that undocumented immigrants increase the size of the U.S. economy/contribute to economic growth, enhance the welfare of natives, contribute more in tax revenue than they collect, reduce American firms' incentives to offshore jobs and import foreign-produced goods, and benefit consumers by reducing the prices of goods and services. Economists estimate that legalization of the undocumented immigrant population would increase the immigrants' earnings and consumption considerably, and increase U.S. gross domestic product.

Green affordable housing is reasonably priced housing that incorporates sustainable features. The phenomenon has become increasingly common in the United States with the adoption of state and local policies that favor or require green building practices for publicly owned or funded buildings. Potential benefits of green affordable housing include lower energy cost burden and improved health. One challenge to green affordable housing is the tendency to overlook long-term benefits in the face of higher upfront cost. The challenge for green housing advocates is to see to the life cycle cost of the building. Many affordable housing projects already find it a challenge to raise capital to finance basic affordable housing. Green affordable housing has taken form in traditionally wooden homes and most recently with 'upcycling' shipping containers

Minimum Wages Act 1948 article

The Minimum Wages Act 1948 is an Act of Parliament concerning Indian labour law that sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.

The Resolution Foundation is an independent British think tank established in 2005. Its stated aim is to improve the standard of living of low- and middle-income families.

The National Living Wage is an obligatory minimum wage payable to workers in the United Kingdom aged 25 and over which came into effect on 1 April 2016. As of April 2020 it is £8.72 per hour for those aged 25 and over, £8.20 for those aged 21–24, £6.45 for ages 18-20. Minimum wage for 16-17 is currently £4.55. It was implemented at a significantly higher rate than the preceding national minimum wage rate, and was expected to rise to at least £9 per hour by 2020. The consultation document issued by the Low Pay Commission in 2019 indicated that this target would not be met, instead proposing a figure of £8.67 per hour for the over 25 rate.

The Living Wage Foundation is a campaigning organisation in the United Kingdom which aims to persuade employers to pay a living wage. The organisation was established in 2011, publishes an annual Living Wage figure and accredits employers who pay the wage. From November 2018 the Living Wage rate is £9.00 per hour outside London and £10.55 per hour within London.

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) is a research method developed in the UK, and now applied in other countries, to identify what incomes different types of households require to reach a socially acceptable living standard. The term has also been used to describe political criteria used openly or implicitly by some governments to assess the adequacy of income levels. MIS is the basis for the calculation of the UK living wage.


  1. "Centre staff | CRSP | Loughborough University". www.lboro.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  2. Minimum Income Standards website
  3. Bradshaw, Jonathan; Middleton, Sue; Davis, Abigail; Oldfield, Nina; Smith, Noel; Cusworth, Linda; Williams, Julie (2008). A minimum income standard for Britain (PDF) (Report). Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  4. "What is MIS?". Loughborough University. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013.
  5. Collins, Micheál L.; Mac Mahon, Bernadette; Weld, Gráinne; Thornton, Robert. "A Minimum Income Standard for Ireland" (PDF). The Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin.
  6. ONPES (Observatoire National de la Pauvreté et de l’Exclusion Social) (2015) Les Budgets de Référence: Une Méthode d’Evaluation des Besoins Pour Une Participation Effective à la Vie Sociale. Paris: ONPES
  7. Davis, Abigai; Hirsch, Donald; Iwanaga, Rie; Iwata, Masami; Shigekawa, Junko; Uzuki, Yuka; Yamada, Atsuhiro (January 2014). "Comparing the Minimum Income Standard in the UK and Japan: Methodology and Outcome". Social Policy and Society. Cambridge University Press. 13 (1): 89–101. doi:10.1017/S147474641300033X.
  8. "Do you earn enough for a decent standard of living?". Minimum Income Calculator UK.
  9. Working paper: uprating the UK Living Wage in 2013 (PDF) (Report). CRSP Loughborough University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  10. D’Arcy, Conor; Finch, David (November 2018). Calculating a Living Wage for London and the rest of the UK (Report). Resolution Foundation.[ permanent dead link ]
  11. Hirsch, Donald. Struggling to make ends meet: Single parents and income adequacy under universal credit (PDF) (Report). Gingerbread. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 March 2015.
  12. "The Costs of Fostering". Loughborough University. Centre for Research in Social Policy. Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  13. http://onlineservices.cpag.org.uk/product/print/165200%5B%5D
  14. Middleton, Sue; Ashworth, Karl; Braithwaite, Ian (1 July 1997). Expenditure on children in Great Britain (Report). Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  15. "Memorandum submitted by the Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University (LH 46)". UK Parliament. 13 November 2009.