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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Cooper family's last Lent diary
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¬†The Cooper family from Manchester (Niall, Rachel and their three children) are among sixty people across the country who agreed to take on the Church Action on Poverty challenge to live on the £4.10 an hour minimum wage for Lent. Niall sent us this week's Cooper family diary, describing how the household budget is holding up. Is it a cause for celebration that we have survived six weeks on the equivalent of the minimum wage? It has certainly given us all a much clearer insight into some of the realities of life on a low income. Every penny has had to be accounted for, and virtually everything we've done over the past month and a half has been calculated in terms of its cost. Any extra expense - including the occasional 65p flapjack bought as a lunchtime treat at work - has induced a sense of guilt, that I shouldn't really be spending this. Yet even so, as the weeks have gone on, it has proved impossible not to overspend the weekly budget of £125. Although we've cut down on many things we'd normally do, we haven't felt able to cut out treats altogether and should we expect our three children to go entirely without the odd extra? This week we've been extremely fortunate. A friend has let us use her cottage in the Lake District for four days, for the price of the fuel we use, and the cost of the petrol getting here. Even so, we really can't afford to be here, let alone the £10 boat trip and £7 visit to a tea shop, but it was too good an offer to miss. But how many people on the minimum wage have friends with cottages in the Lakes? There are many other things that we would have to give up if we were doing this for real, we would have great difficulty paying for the car; pensions, savings, life insurance would all go; repairs to the house; heating and phone bills; clothes; haircuts; presents and family celebrations would cause great difficulty and high levels of stress. For us, as of Easter Sunday life returns to normal, but for tens of thousands others life on the minimum wage will go on. Church Action on Poverty's Living Wage campaign will continue to highlight the inadequacy of the Minimum Wage, and to press Government, churches and employers to ensure that people are instead paid a Living Wage of at least £5.80 an hour. For further information visit:
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