First world problem

The traditional “bucket and spade” August bank holiday outing to the seaside is now out of reach for one in five UK families, the Barnardo’s children’s charity warns on Monday.

It calculated the cost of a no-frills day at the seaside for an average family of four could be as much as £170 in some areas and was £41 at the very least.

The research was based the cheapest train fare, using a relevant railcard, for two adults and two children aged between five and 15 from a range of cities and county towns to their nearest coastal resort. It also includes the price of staple items such as sun cream, fish and chips and ice cream.

Barnardo’s found a day trip could cost up to £172 from Aylesbury to Bournemouth; £127 from Leicester to Skegness; and £96 from London to Margate. The research does not include swimwear, towels, buckets and spades, arm bands or inflatables or extra drinks, snacks and meals.

The UK’s poorest families have too little money to cover basic weekly living costs, let alone a trip to the beach, the research found.

Poverty now means not being able to sink into the mud at Weston Super Mare?

As opposed to eating corn husks for the month before the next harvest? I think we’ve rather solved that economic scarcity problem, haven’t we?

21 comments on “First world problem

  1. Apart from personal stupidity, laziness and general fecklessness, all the economic problems that leave people poorer than they might otherwise be are caused by the state.
    When the state is “On the Beach” things will improve.

  2. It’s saved them from the cold and rain, then?

    I take it that the point of choosing the Bank Holiday is to ensure that the train fares are as high as possible? Barnardo’s is going the right way about being denied my support.

  3. “Poverty now means not being able to sink into the mud at Weston Super Mare?”

    Why not? See Adam Smith and clean linen shirts.

  4. Why not? See Adam Smith and clean linen shirts.

    Because British society (at least, any bit of it I’ve ever been a member of) does not condemn you as impoverished if, even if it is because of the cost (pace Frances) you refuse to join the endless queues for the “traditional ‘bucket and spade’ August bank holiday”.

  5. Well, hurrah for that. Anything that dissuades the ghastly proles from roaming around being unsightly, honking away with their nasty flat vowels, is a good thing.

  6. I’m just outside of Birmingham – about 2 hours drive from the seaside.
    A round trip to the seaside would cost us about £40 in the car – far cheaper than train and more convenient (hence why people buy cars?).
    Back when the world was warm and I was young my parents used to occasionally take my sister and I to the seaside – from a house 6 miles from where I live now.
    OK, very nice day out. Back then was probably just as hard to afford as now, what with other bills and wages in the 70s…. The point is it was a rare treat. Then we moved to Blackpool and I never went to the beach with bucket & spade again!

  7. £170 eh? As little as that.

    Just drink 1 pt of beer a week less for a year, pop the coin in a jar and you have the cost of this extraordinarily cheap day out.

    Not difficult.

  8. SE
    Because British society (at least, any bit of it I’ve ever been a member of) does not condemn you as impoverished…”

    See the commenter below, admittedly not living in the UK:

    “Well, hurrah for that. Anything that dissuades the ghastly proles from roaming around being unsightly, ”

    I’d call that condemning, albeit for being poor, rather than specifically not being able to go to Margate.

  9. MD
    “I’m just outside of Birmingham – about 2 hours drive from the seaside.”

    You have a car, so by definition not poor.

    Does anyone seriously think that someone who can’t take their children to the seaside for a day isn’t poor? What (if anything) you do about it is a separate question.

  10. I was a middle-class child required more than once to cycle to Seaton Carew, where a friend of my mother lived (for those who do not know, it is adjacent to Hartlepool on the north-east coast and was deemed a sea-side resort) which cost us zero. I say “required” because after the first time I should have preferred to stay at home and play cricket with my pals or, if they were not available, just read.
    Why does Barnardo’s think it is massive deprivation not to go to the seaside? For that matter, why is Barnardo’s concerned about families? – its raison d’etre is abandoned children without families.

  11. >You have a car, so by definition not poor.

    Have you seen how cheap cars are these days? My current banger cost me £300, with some tax left in the window, and most of a years MOT. Insurance for someone in their late 30s with a decent no-claims record would be about £250pa – these aren’t massive sums of money.
    For a lot of people, a car is the only way to get to work etc, and thus many people who are really quite poor own one.

  12. @ theprole
    In Albania you are quite well-off if you can afford to buy a second-hand car stolen in Germany

  13. In Australia the current treasurer says the poor don’t do much driving ( hence can raise taxes ‘fairly’ on driving). So there. The sea is full of sharks and dangerous jellyfish anyway.

  14. Luke: – Does anyone seriously think that someone who can’t take their children to the seaside for a day isn’t poor?

    This question, as it stands, doesn’t have much meaning. If you have a million pounds of which you blow £999,999 at the dog track and are left with £1 and only the clothes you stand up in, you are now poor but not an object of pity.

    By the same token, someone who cannot find £200 for something of outstanding importance where a family outing equates to a thing of outstanding importance has made a fundamental error.

    The implication of this bit of fake charity PR is that Barnado’s believe that every family, including those on benefits, and after spending on unexpected contingencies – a car breaking down or a fridge needing replacing – should have surplus disposable income of £200 to which my response is “why?”.

    Barnados: another ‘charity’ whose tins and Christmas cards to avoid.

  15. I’d be surprised that, if they prioritised it (after food, bills etc), any UK family couldn’t find £170 in a year to go to the seaside.

  16. I just read the full Guardian article and I’m a little confused. They claim that 1:5 families have less than £423 a week coming in and that the ‘poorest’ families (is that the one in five??) Have a minimum disposable weekly income of £39. Do they mean discretionary income? Having £39 pounds after tax from £423 would be a tax rate of 90%.

    If they do mean discretionary income then they’re saying that these 1:5 families can’t afford a trip to the seaside every week!

  17. john77: “For that matter, why is Barnardo’s concerned about families? – its raison d’etre is abandoned children without families.”

    If you look up the term ‘mission creep’ in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of….well, any large charity, actually.

  18. In the real world poor people aren’t necessarily poor forever. They’ll drift in and out of poverty: some years they can afford a trip to the seaside or even to Spain; whereas some years they can’t. In a lean year, a friend or relative might drive them (for a lot less than £172).

  19. When I was growing up we could easily afford a trip to the seaside (5 miles away) but probably not a family day out to Swansea (nearest city, 60 miles away) very often.

    Whatever the case, my Mum would never have dreamed of buying food and ice-cream at either location. We got God-awful Marmite sandwiches.

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