Well, yes, there’s a point here

A family-of-four who live on a council estate in Southampton were given a taste of a different life by swapping with a millionaire couple from Wiltshire for a week.
The Leamon and the Fiddes families are participants in a new series of Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, which sees a family from the richest ten per cent of British society swap homes (and lives) with a family from the poorest ten per cent.

However, viewers took to Twitter to insist that Andy and Kim Leamon and their two children from Southampton who have £170 a week to spend on food, clothes and socialising after paying their mortgage and bills are certainly not struggling.

It’s not, by local standards, exactly great riches, to be sure. But that is £2,210 of disposable income per person per year. That’s on the fringes of the top 30% of all global incomes. 70% or so are poorer.

Note again, this is their disposable income, after housing, bills and taxes, the global income number is before all of that. Or, as we might also put it, this is unimaginable riches by global or historical standards.

21 thoughts on “Well, yes, there’s a point here”

  1. £170 a week disposable income?
    Pretty sure there are many families on much lower disposable incomes. Never mind millions on benefits on lower disposable income.

    Don’t think I’ve ever been as high an income as them, that level of disposable income. Many times a LOT less.

  2. The Leamon family are not poor, they are what we used to call respectable working class – as opposed to the underclass. You’re hardly going to afford the latter the run of your six-bed mini-mansion for a week.

  3. “Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, which sees a family from the richest ten per cent of British society swap homes (and lives) with a family from the poorest ten per cent.”

    For 2014-15 (the latest year I can find) an after tax but before benefits income of £43,900 got you into the top 10% and £11,800 into the bottom 10%. That’s BEFORE benefits.

    What wild differences in lifestyle are expected from this?

  4. “What wild differences in lifestyle are expected from this?”

    Well presumably the people at the top end will be chosen for actually being well into the top 10%, so having incomes well above £43k, while the people in the bottom 10% will be largely interchangeable, in terms of income, due to the welfare and minimum wage systems.

    There is a point however that I like to make to the ‘inequality’ brigade – how much of a better life does being rich buy you nowadays? Everyone has the same basic services, regardless of wealth. Electric, running water, gas, phone, broadband etc etc. Its not like 60 years ago when the rich could afford cars, fridges, indoor toilets, telephones and TVs and the poor had bikes, larders, a privvy, a public payphone and the wireless. A decent 10 yo car does exactly the same job as a new top of the range BMW – it gets you to work and the shops reliably and in comfort. A millionaire could walk into a council house and be quite at home, and vice versa. There’s less practical differences between the lifestyles of wealthy and the poor than there has ever been, mainly because free market economy has made former luxuries so cheap everyone can afford them. The main difference is housing – wealth now buys you privacy and space. Everything else is broad brush the same.

  5. @Jim

    I did guess they were actually thinking of the top 0.5% if not higher. Even the top 1% start at around £160k p.a. which is a healthy salary, to be sure, but not Ferrari and yacht territory.

    “Top 10%” is hugely misleading.

    And your point about the dwindling differences between anyone not in the super-rich category are well made and what the left hate to hear.

    The left cease to have a function unless they can whip up envy and spite. And if pretty much everyone is doing relatively well, there isn’t enough reason to be envious.

  6. And Taxes and Mortgage (aka ‘rent’) will be taking ~4/5ths of their total income.
    So the problem is..?

  7. Er, Jim.
    Sixty years ago, when I was a kid, the middle-class had wirelesses and the working class had TVs (well, mostly – a few middle-class had TVs and some working-class didn’t but Lord Reith’s BBC was quite high-brow and ITV wasn’t).
    Oop north fridges weren’t necessary (we didn’t have one).
    What you *have* missed is that the rich had servants – 100 years ago the middle-class did – but all the labour-saving devices mean that they aren’t needed: the average working-class housewife in a council house has machines to do 90% of what servants did 100 or so years ago.

  8. @john77
    “What you *have* missed is that the rich had servants – 100 years ago the middle-class did – but all the labour-saving devices mean that they aren’t needed: the average working-class housewife in a council house has machines to do 90% of what servants did 100 or so years ago.”
    Very true – although not everyone has space for a dishwasher. I often wonder how long it would take by hand to wash our clothes instead of using a machine.
    (Not a quick experiment to do because it would take several weeks to be good enough to test this fairly).

  9. @ anon
    That’s one of the things that make it non-comparable: we just didn’t (and without machines still wouldn’t) wash clothes so often.
    Some years after washing machins were invented myy middle-class public school expected us to wear grey shirts for six days between washes (the white shirt on Sunday for two days). Two pairs of underpants and two pairs of socks for a week. instead of fresh ones every day.

  10. My dear old Mum, bless her, who would be 102 if she was still alive, told me once that she didn’t mind smelling of pee in her old age, because in her childhood the once-weekly change of clothes meant that everyone she knew did!

    But back then everyone smoked, so the smell wasn’t so obvious.

  11. anon… hand washing wouldn’t remove the grime of yester year and most homes used a boiler and mangle. I can just about recall a giant cauldron heated by a coal gas ring. The week’s washing would be stirred for an hour or so before being retrieved from the water with a boiling stick (also used for thwacking cheeky urchins across the head) and fed into a mangle. It was a balls aching process and, watching both my gran on washing day and my grandfather who was a stoker at the general hospital, I never worked out which of the two had the more demanding role.

  12. Rob Harries: Pray, whose fault is that you have taken on that debt?

    A real question would be how the hell did we end up in this situation where women are expected to work, and this poor woman has consequentially been crippled as a result of some bullshit makework job.

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