About those scroungers

March 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Posted in British Politics, Working Class Britain | Leave a comment

I’ll try to write more about this later in the week, but I would hope that Amelia Gentleman’s brilliant (and awfully depressing) report into Breadline Britain will add something to the debates on poverty & welfare dependency:

Shopping at Morrisons doesn’t take very long. Louise has a simple formula: don’t buy anything that costs more than £1. This week, the budget bananas are finished, and the regular packet costs £1.29, so she doesn’t buy bananas. The cheap potatoes are also sold out, so she doesn’t buy potatoes. She fills a basket with Morrisons own-brand orange juice, 56p; reduced-sugar jam, 95p; peanut butter, 78p; yoghurt, £1.00; bread, 99p, granulated sugar, 93p; oven chips, 79p; two tins of eight hot dogs at 49p each; one bag of value apples, £1.00. Only the milk, biscuits and the cheese cost more. She ignores the faltering monologue from her son, who has been diagnosed with learning difficulties, just audible from beneath the pram’s hood. “Mum, I want flowers. Please buy flowers. I want the Bob the Builder egg. I want High School Musical chocolates . . .”

“It would be nice, on occasion, to buy them something on a whim – treats, cakes and biscuits. But if you do, you know you’re going to have to turn the heating off,” she says. Her face is pallid, and she has grey patches of exhaustion beneath her eyes.

She crosses the car park to Iceland to find cheaper bananas (brown and verging on rotten), pizza, cheese spread and chicken pies for £1 each.

“This will easily last me until next week, and there’ll be stuff left over,” she says confidently, although she concedes that things would be better still if she could spare £4 to make a bus trip into the city centre for the weekly Wednesday food handouts by nuns, who usually give her a couple of plastic bags of tins and pasta. Last harvest festival her daughter’s school was collecting for the nuns, so she sent in a few tins she had been given by them, and is half-expecting to see them come back full circle and return to her cupboard.

Do read the rest.

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