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Friday, 5 June 2009

How Poor Am I?

Sitting here without the where-with-all to even buy a loaf of bread (I get my Jobseekers allowance on Monday), I decided to try and work out how poor I really am.

I the great scheme of things, I'm not doing too badly. I have a roof over my head, running water and electricity and, even an Internet connection - though the 8 year old computer on which I'm writing this is on its last legs. Most of the sources I looked at were concerned with child poverty in the UK and the Government's attempt to eradicate it, which is to be applauded, but I am a single man and I have needs as well.

The standard definition of poverty in the UK is "a household income that is 60% or less of the average (median) British household income in that year".

The last figures I can find for median household incomes are for 2006-07. The 60% threshold was: £112 per week for single adult with no dependent children; £193 per week for a couple with no dependent children; £189 per week for a single adult with two dependent children under 14; and £270 per week for a couple with two dependent children under 14.

These figures are calculated after income tax, council tax and housing costs have been deducted, where housing costs can include rents, mortgage interest (but not the repayment of principal), buildings insurance and water charges. They therefore represent what the household has available to spend on everything else it needs, from food and heating to travel and entertainment.

Well at just over £60 benefit a week and as a single person it would appear that even using the 2006-2007 figures I am very poor indeed

Fuel Poverty
Another definition often bandied about is that of fuel poverty. A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21 degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms).

The “Fuel poverty ratio” is therefore defined as:

Fuel poverty ratio = fuel costs (usage x price) / income

This would appear quite straight forward - if I spend more than £6 a week on keeping warm, then I'm in 'fuel poverty'. According to my thermometer, I'm sitting typing this blog at a comfortable 27 degrees and apart from the computer on which I'm working and the wireless relaying Radio 4 in the background I have no other electrical appliances switched on apart from the clock on the boiler downstairs. It's June though and things are very different in the winter. Anyone who has to use token meters for gas and/or electricity will tell you that £6 a week on fuel will go nowhere in the winter months.

So there we have it. I live well below the poverty line and experience fuel poverty when the weather gets cold. As the Russian Meerkat says in the advert "Simples".

If anyone wants to hire me as a web developer, photographer or just a writer for the minimum wage, just drop me a line.

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