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: May 2019
Submission to DEASP
This submission shows the potential of the MESL data to inform the discourse on social welfare adequacy benchmarking, demonstrating the current usage of the data and how MESL is accepted as a …
Issued: October 2018
MESL Impact Briefing
The VPSJ has prepared its annual budget impact briefing in response to Budget 2019. This briefing analyses the impact of the Budget in the context of the Minimum Essential Standards research, …
Issued: September 2018
Experiences of living below the Minimum Essential Standard of Living
This project engages directly with households to shine a light on their struggle to make ends meet when income is insufficient, and to demonstrate the consequences of bringing up a family on an …
Issued: June 2018
The report presents the cost of an MESL in 2018, and benchmarks the adequacy of current social welfare supports and the national minimum wage for a set of 12 common household types. The minimum …
Social Welfare Benchmarking: Submission to DEASP
Issued: May 2019
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.