Comparative analysis of Minimum Income Standards: Ireland and the United Kingdom
2015-07-14T07:59:42Z (GMT) by
Introduction: This paper compares results from research in Ireland and the United Kingdom, both using the principles of the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) method, to establish minimum socially acceptable budgets in each country. This is the first step in a wider exercise comparing results from the MIS method in the UK, Ireland, France, Portugal and Austria, planned during the course of 2014, as results from the last three of these countries become available. The purposes of the comparison are: 1) To identify similarities and differences in Irish and UK formulations of what needs to be included in a minimum acceptable budget. 2) To explore what lies behind differences and in particular what this might tell us about factors that cause minimum income requirements to differ across countries. 3) To establish the potential and any limitations in such cross-country comparisons using the MIS method. In making this first comparison between two countries, we should note that the Irish research has been carried out in parallel to the UK research, explicitly seeking to replicate the main features of its method, but resource constraints have meant that it has not been an identical design. One difference is that rather than having separate groups looking at the needs of each household member in turn, each Irish group looks at the requirements of a whole household. Another difference is that recruitment in Ireland has been drawn from community groups build up over the years by the charity (Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice), rather than directly from the general public as in the UK, although it is important to emphasise that in both cases selection of participants is to designed to recruit people from a range of social backgrounds. These differences do not affect the underlying character of the focus groups or their mission, but mean that the method is not identical, so comparisons need to be read with caution. MIS studies in Portugal, France and Austria, which have directly involved the UK MIS team in an advisory role, have been closer to the UK method in these respects.