Rowntree survey shows living standards squeezed

A 24-page research paper, A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2013, by social policy charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation, revealed that minimum living costs for a family of four had risen 25 per cent between 2008 and 2013 to £471 a week.

A major contributor to this increase was childcare, which had jumped 37 per cent, while rising social housing rents, public transport costs and food and energy bills had pushed the minimum cost of living up faster than the average cost of living.

The project aims to define an adequate income and is based on what members of the public think is enough money to live on and maintain a socially acceptable quality of life.

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Report author Donald Hirsch said the tightening in public spending “made it harder for households to make ends meet”, with the increases showing no signs of abating.

Key points

The report also revealed:

• 38 per cent of the £200-a-week a single person needs to achieve minimum income standards was met by out-of-work benefits

• A single person needed to earn a £16,850 a year to achieve MIS

• A family of four was £230 a year worse off due to the rising cost of essentials and benefit cuts

Adviser view

Nick McBreen, financial planner for Cornwall-based Worldwide Financial Planning, said: “While we have a safety net for people experiencing poverty, it’s a net with large holes. Costs are going up and people are often finding themselves with no support. The problem is that post-RDR, these people haven’t got a hope in hell of being able to afford financial advice, despite needing it the most.”