Sunday, 27 April 2014

Below the Line Challenge - My View

Ok, so I am back and I appear to be back with a grump, so nothing has changed then!

Tomorrow is the start of the Live Below The Line Challenge.  To raise poverty awareness, you can challenge yourself to live on £1 per day.  I am sure the intentions behind are well meaning but until you ACTUALLY have to live on a tight budget you will never, ever do it.

A BBC journalist has taken the challenge, you can read their story here.  Let's take a day at random and break it down.

Day 3 - Spent 94p

Today, while walking the dog in our local woods, my wife and I have a brainwave.  The blackthorn is blooming, and everywhere bright green stinging nettles are pushing up through the undergrowth.  It is the perfect time of year for nettle soup.

Not quite free food though: the recipe has potatoes, butter and cream.  And you need plenty of patience to strip each plant of its leaves.  With two slices of value bread and margarine to go with it, lunch comes in at a below-average 17p.

And with dinner of carrot, kidney bean and cumin burger, I can almost believe I am eating meat.

Carrot, kidney bean and cumin burgers

Ingredients                           Cost/serving                 Source
1/2 medium carrot                      2p                                  £0.49/6 Morrisons
1 small onion                              1p                                   £0.49/ 1kg Morrisons
2 sprigs coriander                      1p                                   £0.50/large bunch Tesco
1/2tsp ground cumin                  1p                                  £1.69/400g Tesco
1/4 can kidney beans                5p                                   £0.21/ 400g Sainsburys
oil                                                 1p                                   £1.39/ litre Morrisons
1/2tbsp flour                               1p                                    £0.65/1.5kg Sainsburys
For garnish
2tbsp mayo                                 3p                                   £1.40/730g Tesco
1/2 iceberg lettuce leaf              4p                                   £0.89/ 1 Tesco
1tbsp mango chutney                3p                                    Neesa £1/400g Asda
2 buns                                         20p                                  £1.20/12 Tesco
Portion cost 42p

Now, if you add up the ingredients, yes, the serving costs 42p, however you cannot just buy 1/4 can kidney beans, you have to buy the full can, 21p.  You cannot buy 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, you have to buy the bottle, £1.69.

This is ignoring the cost of travelling around all the different stores to buy the ingredients at their cheapest and the cost of cooking.

So to buy all the ingredients for this 42p per serving the meal has cost (excluding the things mentioned above) it would cost £9.91 which is fine if there are two of you and you are both happy to eat the same meal every day for five days, assuming you can eke it out to 5 days, and can live on 4.5p each for breakfast and lunch for 5 days (remember, it is a 5 day challenge at £1 per day, so 2 people for 5 days should cost no more than £10).

I have had to live on a budget, I was made redundant and only received £64 jobseekers allowance per week, out which I had to pay for my electric, my water rates, and everything else that you give no thought to when you have a wage coming in (my council tax was paid for me, whoopee!) and it was a struggle, but I did it and so do 100s of other people who suddenly find themselves out of work and non-qualifying for pretty much all of the benefits except the very minimum.

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