A married couple with two children now need an income of £40,600 per annum to enjoy a reasonable lifestyle, new research has claimed.
The research was commissioned by social policy charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The cost of goods has risen by an average of 29 per cent since 2008, it claims, an increase significantly higher than the official inflation rate of 19 per cent. The report cites food, bus travel, and domestic energy as everyday items which have seen some of the largest price rises since the beginning of the recession – 26 per cent, 37 per cent, and 45 per cent respectively.
As a result, the amount required by an average family of four to achieve an acceptable standard of living is 46 per cent per person higher than it was in 2008, when only £13,900 was needed. Average earnings, meanwhile, have increased by just 9 per cent over the same period. Tax and benefit changes, meanwhile, have meant further loss for many families.
Abigail Davis, one of the report’s authors, said people interviewed by the charity had expressed consistent views on what constitutes an acceptable standard of living throughout the recession.
“It means being able to afford to feed your family and heat your home properly, but also having enough to buy a birthday present for your children, and to spend time with your family away from home, such as the occasional meal out.”
The Foundation said parents had been hardest hit. Single parents now need to earn in excess of £27,000 per year for a decent standard of living – compared to just £12,000 in 2008.
Kate Schmuecker is a programme manager at the charity. She said wages increases as the economy improves would not solve the issues highlighted by the research.
“People have talked a lot about wages falling behind the cost of living but this really lays bare the challenge to make up lost ground. This isn’t just falling short, it’s falling behind.”