The facts of life on a low income
The study, Life on a Low Income, produced by the Rowntree Foundation, depicts the lives of millions of people living on benefits and low incomes. Among them are mothers who devise all manner of ways to provide, against the odds, for their families. They manage the budget by shopping without children to avoid being pressured to spend more, and favour street markets, where they shop at the end of the day, buying old fruit and stale bread at bargain prices.
The Rowntree Foundation, the philanthropic organisation founded by the Quaker maker of chocolate bars, and renowned for its studies of the poor, interviewed 2,000 people living on the breadline. Its report explores the strategies people use to cope with low incomes, and reveals the boredom and isolation of life on little money.
"If an underclass is a group with different values and aspirations to the rest of us, then this research shows that people living on low incomes are not an underclass," said David Darton, of the Rowntree Foundation.
While the poor have had the reputation of being feckless, the study reveals them as careful managers. Some explain that they have to keep cash separately for specific parts of their budget but for most, juggling the budget means choosing between spending on food or heating.
Around 14 million people live on less than half of average earnings. The majority live in households headed by women, who themselves bear the brunt of the hardships of poverty, including doing without food rather than letting their children suffer deprivation.
Rather than the consumer-credit debts of the better off, those on low incomes have debts on basic household bills, such as heating and council tax. But these financial problems can put an extreme strain on marital and familial relationships.
While the study says that finding a job is the ideal way out of this low income morass, it also assesses that just pounds 15 a week more would improve low-income families' lives.
If the connection between earnings and the setting of social security payment levels had not been broken 10 years ago, the Rowntree Foundation says, many of those struggling to survive today would be managing.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies aged 62
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...