if I hadn’t seen such riches

Interesting reading in the news this week about how much money we apparently “need” for an “acceptable” standard of living, and the methodology used to calculate the figures.  The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have a calculator here that you can play around with to adjust the figure for your family.    Try it, it’s educative.  I now realise how impoverished we are.  We are ten grand a year short of an acceptable lifestyle, and had never realised!  My children are deprived!  We do not have £185.62 per week to spend on social and cultural activities, or £61.89 on clothing.

There’s something very wrong here.  I’ve been poor, and it’s no joke.  Poverty can grind you down, and demean you.  I understand that poverty doesn’t have to mean starvation and homelessness; that it’s relative to the society we live in; that to be without a car, or a computer and broadband internet can be isolating, and excluding.

But the implications of this report trouble me.  If we live in a world which believes we need so much as an acceptable minimum, no wonder we see parents working longer hours and spending less time with their children; families building up more and more debt;  and stress, exhaustion and mental illness becoming the norm.

Stop the world, I want to get off…

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “if I hadn’t seen such riches

  1. £61.89 a WEEK for clothing?? My clothing budget comes in at £25 per MONTH for all four of us…(hurrah for hand me downs and charity shops)

  2. katherinea

    I thoroughly confused myself with that website last night. At one point I swear it told me I could live on three grand a year.
    The thing I also found was that it was very hard to actually turn it into what you can afford and what you can’t on that money. Do social and cultural activities include Christmas and birthday presents and holidays for example? and do the kids get a Playstation each or a lump of coal? It’s just not the way we break up a lot our money.
    I’d like to read the things that were considered acceptable. e.g. I think you needed a five year old car. These days I’d say a ten year old car will still be going strong. Lee’s is 9 years old and not old and battered in my eyes.
    And I’m not even sure in my head what ‘acceptable’ is meant to mean. I’d love to know if the same people who said you need a certain size of flat screen TV are simultaneously complaining about people in council houses having giant TVs. Should we *all* have the acceptable standard? Or were they answering for what they personally wouldn’t be comfortable coping without? This stuff raises so many questions but I’ll shut up now.

  3. I haven’t looked at the website as I don’t want to depress myself but your post is close to my heart this week Nicola. Having just seen middle sister at the weekend for first time since xmas they somehow managed to parade in front of my son that theirs had been given a ridiculously expensive birthday present (a Gibson electric ukelele, for which there was a waiting list, apparently). They manage to do this every time and to his credit he might be learning to let it wash over him. But she has the cheek to tell me they are struggling to pay the private school fees for their kids and then has this kind of conspicous consumption (you should have seen the Christmas presents!) with no thought as to how it affects anyone else. AAAARGH.

    • All of which I’ve known for years, which is indeed why she has always been our last choice to have the boys if anything happens to us as these are NOT the kind of values I want them to have

  4. Sugar

    Frightening….. I knew I was poor – I just wasn’t expecting to be quite sooo poor!

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