What is Minimum Essential Budget Standards research?
The research is focus group led, working with members of the public to establish social consensus on what is needed for a minimum living standard. The research is informed by expert knowledge as needed, e.g. nutrition. It produces detailed household budgets which establish what is needed for an acceptable Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL), for 90% of households in Ireland.
- is a standard of living which no one should be expected to live below
- is decided by members of the public, agreeing on what is needed to live at an acceptable dignified standard and participate in Irish society
- is the minimum needed to live and partake in Irish society today, meeting the physical, psychological and social needs of individuals and households
- is a minimum standard for everyone, not just those in poverty
- counts the actual weekly cost of all the over 2,000 items (goods and services) needed to enable a socially acceptable minimum standard of living
- is a unique benchmark, grounded in the lived experience of people, which complements other poverty measures. It shines a light on the extent to which individuals and households can afford a minimum standard of living
The Minimum Essential Budget Standards (MEBS) Research Centre was established by the VPSJ in 2016, as the next step in over 17 years of income adequacy research (of which 15 years focused on budget standards research). The VPSJ has pioneered the use of the Consensual Budget Standards methodology in Ireland and its application to establishing minimum expenditure and income needs.
The VPSJ’s MEBS research centre continues to be the only organisation carrying out this work in Ireland. The distinctive strength of the research approach is its grounding in reality and lived experience of people.
Through this research the VPSJ plays an active role in trying to ensure a fairer society for all.
The minimum standards data is widely used in the policy debate across government departments, in analysis by NGOs, contributes to the annual Budget process, and at a practical level it is used by organisations working directly with people such as SVP and MABS. Furthermore, the research forms the basis of the ISI’s reasonable living expenses and the Living Wage calculations.
The role of the MEBS Research Centre is to continue this crucial research, providing evidence to inform policy on the income and supports required to overcome poverty and social exclusion.
Issued: December 2021
Webinar, 9th Dec 2021
This webinar, from the 9th December 2021, focused on the present, past and future of the VPSJ’s Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) reference budget research in Ireland. The session …
Issued: October 2021
MESL Impact Briefing
This briefing analyses the impact of the Budget in the context of the Minimum Essential Standards research, benchmarking the adequacy of social welfare rates and the minimum wage in 2022 for a set of …
Issued: October 2021
This report provides an update of the MESL baskets to reflect prices in 2021, specifying the average weekly cost of the goods and services deemed necessary to enable a socially acceptable minimum …
Issued: September 2021
VPSJ & safefood
This research examines the cost of the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) Healthy Food Basket for 2020. It is derived from the VPSJ’s ongoing MESL research, which works with members of …
Issued: June 2021
MESL Pre-Budget Submission
The VPSJ welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Department of Social Protection presenting evidence-based policy recommendations, based on the MESL 2021 analysis of minimum needs and …
Issued: February 2021
MESL Working Paper
This paper examines and quantifies the contribution of multiple factors to the change in cost between the previous iteration of the MESL basket and the reviewed & rebased MESL for 2020, …
The MESL – A Reference Budget Twenty-Two Years in the Making: Webinar, 9th Dec 2021
Issued: December 2021
MISc.ie Minimum Income Standard Calculator
The Minimum Income Standard calculator (MISc.ie) provides ready access to tailored data on the minimum expenditure and income needs of the majority of household types across Ireland.
Using MISc.ie you can define specific household compositions and employment scenarios, for households in Urban and Rural areas, and examine their particular minimum expenditure and income needs.
The calculator uses the latest Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) expenditure data, calculating the minimum income households in Ireland require to afford a socially acceptable minimum standard of living.
MISc.ie is currently using the latest 2017 MESL expenditure needs data, and applicable 2018 income rates.