The Minimum Essential Budget Standards Research Centre

The Minimum Essential Budget Standards (MEBS) Research Centre was established by the VPSJ in 2016, as the next step in over 17 years of 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.

The VPSJ began the work to establish the cost of a socially acceptable minimum standard of living in 1999; the VPSJ was inspired to undertake this research in response to its work with individuals struggling to make ends meet when reliant on social welfare and / or the minimum wage.

The VPSJ is the only organisation in Ireland undertaking this research, which focuses on the expenditure and income required for individuals and households to have a Minimum Essential Standard of Living.

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 the lived experience of people.

The minimum standards data is widely used in the policy debate in Ireland. It is referenced across government and within departments; it is pro-actively used and cited by national organisations in their work to address poverty and social exclusion, and promote equality; at a practical level, the data 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.

Through this research the VPSJ plays an active role in trying to ensure a fairer society for all.

The MESL research has grown in range and scope, and has reached a critical mass in terms of the recognition of its value and utility. It is in the context of the expansion of the data, its contribution to the debate on poverty reduction and the need to address social and economic policy issues, that the creation of the Minimum Essential Budget Standards Research Centre is seen as a logical development of this aspect of the work of the VPSJ.

What is the role of the Centre?

  • To ensure the consolidation of the research and MESL data, already established by the VPSJ, within a clearly visible identity.

  • To increase its accessibility to policy developers, decision makers and the general public.

  • To ensure the sustainability of the data and its continuing expansion.

  • To enhance the VPSJ’s ability to address the core research and policy development issues arising from the expanded recognition and utilisation of the MESL data by groups across Ireland, and at EU level.

  • To facilitate the effectiveness of the current contribution of the Minimum Standards research to the suite of measures which focus on the understanding of poverty and its reduction.

  • To enhance the potential to contribute to both national and international debates and efforts to promote acceptable living standards for all citizens.

  • To conduct deeper analysis and comprehensive policy development, responding to the needs of the multiple organisations and bodies which rely on the MESL data.