Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A decent quality of life

A couple with two children now need to earn £36,800 a year to have a "socially acceptable" standard of living, an anti-poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says. A couple with two children were said to need to earn a minimum of £18,400 a year each before tax; single people £16,400 a year, while the figure for lone parent with one child is £23,900 and a pensioner couple £12,000 each. An average working family needs £9,000 more than they would have before the onset of the financial crisis just to maintain the same basic standard of living, a major report shows, an increase of income of one third to maintain the same “decent” standard of living as they enjoyed in 2008. An estimated three million people more people are going without essentials than were then.

 The minimum income standard (MIS) includes earning enough to eat a balanced diet, running a car and heating the home. the Foundation’s measure of a decent quality of life, allowing families and consumers to meet “socially accepted norms” but without extravagances. As well as simple, healthy food and occasional clothes, it includes things like a cheap mobile phone, an annual holiday – but only self-catering and in the UK.

Donald Hirsch, co-author of the report, added: “People are being more modest in terms of what they think needs to be spent on participating in society, but this thrift has been outweighed by rising costs. Parents have not changed their view of most needs, including a nutritious diet and participation by children in activities vital for social inclusion. What has changed is the ability of many families to afford such essentials.”

JRF chief executive Julia Unwin said families faced a "monumental task" to earn enough to get by. "Parents facing low wages and pressure on their working time have little prospect of finding the extra money they need to meet growing household expenses. Many working people face the risk of sliding into poverty."
Childcare minimum costs have risen by nearly a third since 2008. Bus fares have doubled since the late 1990s which when combined with cuts to public transport, means families with children now deem a car as an essential item. Benefit cuts have increased earning requirements substantially, cancelling out the benefit of higher income tax thresholds. Overall the minimum cost of living for a family has risen 16 per cent faster than inflation in the last four years.

Oxfam director of UK poverty Chris Johnes who said: "Yet again we are seeing evidence of working families being hit hardest by a perfect storm of soaring living costs and cuts to services and crucial support, like working tax credits. Millions of families are struggling to get by on dwindling incomes and even when both parents work full time they each need to earn 50% above the minimum wage, in order to provide a decent standard of living for their kids."

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