I noted an article by Frances Ryan in the Guardian yesterday in which she referred to a YouGov survey that sought opinion from people in the UK on what levels of consumption those on benefits or low pay should enjoy.
The findings were deeply unflattering to the people of this country. As Frances Ryan noted, around 25% of people surveyed thought those on low pay or benefits did not have an entitlement to enjoy a balanced diet. The same number wondered whether those on low pay should be able to heat their homes.
Others questioned why having a mobile phone was a necessity, even though access to government services is now almost impossible without one. The right to a television was also questioned when that is the most basic means of access to the shared culture that defines our community.
As Francis Ryan correctly noted, much of this is indicative of deeply prejudicial opinion within UK society, with those who think that they have wealth, or who believe that they can aspire to it, being deeply hostile towards those on low incomes. What is curious, however, is that for these degrees of prejudice to be prevalent those holding them must themselves have little more than average income in many cases and they might only be possessed of little more than median wealth, which is vastly lower than that enjoyed by those in the top decile of wealth owners in the UK. Prejudice does, in that case, extend well beyond those with wealth in that case.
But this is how the Joseph Rowntree folk work out the living wage. What should people be able to do to not be poor in modern Britain. It’s exactly how they do it – ask folks what people should be able to do.
So apparently vox populi when Spud agrees and vox dei when he doesn’t.