Friday 2 August 2013

The Squeezed middle

Recently there have been quite a few programmes on TV about people in food poverty. There was the 'Great British Budget Menu' which was appalling in just about every way. Where it wasn't completely impractical it was cringingly awful. Essentially three celebrity chefs had to produce a meal at £1 per head... and failed. How?! It's not exactly a hard challenge - though admittedly eating frugal meals day after day is dispiriting and much harder to happily maintain.

The other programme was 'Nick and Margaret: we all pay your benefits'. This paired up a family living off benefits with another family that is earning. Lots of vile judgements shown here. The only redeeming feature of this two-parter was Nick and Margaret discussing that no matter how tightly benefits are squeezed people are still going to claim them because there are not enough jobs. Fact.

Anyway, I'm going off track a little. I've been reading comments in the blogospere and one in particular caught my attention, describing these programmes as aimed not at those with real food poverty but at the squeezed middle.

This is such a wonderful term, the squeezed middle. Not poor but certainly feeling more than a pinch at the current economic situation. Actually, I suspect that it was meant in a derogatory way but it is apt for I, too, am one of the squeezed middle.

I am counting my pennies, live in charity shop clothes and have few luxuries. But whilst money has been getting harder to deal with I still have choices. We could downsize, lose a car, move back to a city. We choose not to and that is the biggest factor. We choose to live off very little in order to have our house in the country and we are lucky to have that choice. True poverty has few choices.

I have other advantages too. I have a garden which produces a harvest. I can cook and, having grown up with no money, I know how to cook cheaply. I am blessed to be able to take advantage of bulk buying and can be flexible with my budget to do so. Importantly, I also have the space to store this.

I am very fortunate. It is humbling to be reminded of that.

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