Centre for Research in Social Policy
The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) is a self-funding autonomous 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, aims to improve the quality and flow of information on which policy decisions are made and promotes contacts between policy makers, practitioners and the research community.
The current Director of CRSP is Donald Hirsch.
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).
The research defines what level of income is needed to allow a minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK. 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, who may be informed by expert knowledge on specific topics, indicating what items need to be included in a minimum household budget. Hence, the project brings together two approaches to setting budget standards: CRSP work with members of the public to negotiate budgets and experts to check these decisions. Calculations are updated annually, based on inflation, and reviewed every two years, based on new research, to reflect changing social norms.
MIS is an ongoing programme of research originally funded, in 2006, under the title of a Minimum Income Standard for Britain, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The research is now fully carried out by the Centre for Research in Social Policy, having been developed in its origins in partnership with the Family Budget Unit at York University.
CRSP provides a Minimum Income Calculator.
Calculation of the Living Wage. MIS is the basis for calculating the Living Wage outside London: the figure used by the Living Wage Foundation as the basis for accrediting Living Wage employers. CRSP calculates the wage that households need in order to have a minimum acceptable standard of living outside London, which is updated annually and used voluntarily by employers.
The Cost of a Child. This research project calculates the cost of raising up 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 short of affording a minimum living standard.
This project is jointly funded by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The report for 2013 indicates that the cost of bringing up a child in the United Kingdom, based on the Minimum Income Standard, is £148,000, which is 4% higher than in 2012.
Examples of recent studies
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).
Minimum Acceptable Place Standard. This projects builds on and adapts the MIS methodology to explore public opinion on what constitutes an acceptable place for living. This research project takes into consideration differences in perception of what conditions places should meet, based in urban and rural settings.
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. 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. 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. 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. When the Centre was founded there were seven members of staff consisting of four researchers, a full-time and a part-time Secretary and a part-time Executive Officer. 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.
The Centre expanded rapidly between 1995 and 2000, increasing its funding base from only two funders and 14 members of staff to nine funders and 27 members of staff.
In 2008, CRSP celebrated 25 years of dynamic research in social policy. In 2009, the Centre celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a highly successful two-day international conference, Beyond Social Inclusion: Towards a More Equal Society? at Holywell Park Conference Centre in Loughborough. The conference was also part of the Centenary Celebrations for Loughborough University. A number of papers presented at the conference were published in the following journals:
- Benefits (The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice), Volume 17, Number 3, October 2009
- “Social Policy and Inequality” - Special Edition by the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Volume 30, Issue 3, March/April 2010.
- Professor (later Sir) Adrian Webb (1983)
- Professor Robert Walker (1990)
- Bruce Stafford and Sue Middleton (2000)
- Professor Alan France (2006)
- Dr Noel Smith (2011)
- Donald Hirsch (2012)
- 21st Birthday Conference: Shaping social policy: what role for research?, September 2004
- A Fairer Society? A Review of Policies for Vulnerable Groups, September 2006
- Beyond Social Inclusion: Towards a More Equal Society?, January 2009
- Minimum Income Standards website