Qa is recruiting focus groups with complex criteria to inform the calculation of ‘A Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK (MIS), to ensure it is set at a level affording an acceptable standard of living to households across the UK.
Background and aims
MIS is a major programme of work regularly reporting on how much income households need to afford an acceptable standard of living. Developed from 2006 to 2008 in collaboration with the Family Budget Unit at the University of York, the programme is now carried out fully by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP), http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/crsp/mis/whatismis/ with on-going funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
MIS is updated annually, at least with inflation, with new research every two years ensuring that it reflects changing social norms. This rolling program of research means that CRSP conduct focus groups with complex recruitment criteria to ensure they consult with a wide range of family units, couples, older residents and single people living rurally, in urban locations and living in inner and outer London.
Undertaking the recruitment
The role of Qa in this research is to fulfil the challenging recruitment specifications for the required focus groups and in-depth interviews. We work closely with CRSP to ensure the groups and interviewees meet their exact needs.
Since late 2014 we have recruited 25 focus groups plus 30 individuals for in-depth interviews from a range of social economic grades, urban/rural locations and family type (with/without children).
We have just been awarded the contract for recruiting all the MIS groups up until 2020. The 2017-20 rebase and review of MIS will involve Qa recruiting 45 different focus groups each of 10 individuals with complex specs on age, gender, marital status, single parents, partnered parents, social economic grade, housing tenure and working status, as illustrated below:
The impact of MIS has been wide-ranging. It is used frequently in policy debate and analysis and at a more practical level by some charities to target financial support. MIS forms the basis for setting the Living Wage outside London, endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation and adopted widely by public, private and voluntary bodies.
MIS has been used in CRSP to analyse the cost of a child, Universal Credit, the ‘couple penalty’ and the number of people living below adequate income. As well as calculating MIS levels for the UK as a whole, CRSP has done the same for rural areas in England and remote parts of Scotland, and for Northern Ireland. It has also explored whether environmental considerations may affect social definitions of a minimum, and whether older pensioners have different minimum income requirements from younger ones.
A recent news article on the research findings is available on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38970227
Helen Hardcastle, Research Director for more information:
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