to wonder how employees get away with paying their staff under £15k?

(151 Posts)
KenAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 00:12:32

I've just been looking at jobs and I'm shocked at how many pay under £15k!

Surely that's not enough to buy a house in most areas of the country or afford rent on an average family house as well as food, bills, nursery fees etc?

I live in a relatively cheap area and full time nursery fees alone are around £800. How can people be expected to afford that on low wages? It's no wonder that some people really are better off on benefits, which is really sad.

I don't know how low your income has to be to get help from the government but surely there needs to be a big rise in minimum wage in order to meet living costs now?

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 30-Nov-12 00:16:09

My previous job was like that. They can get away with extremely low salaries because even say,13.5k is above minimum wage. Is quite a way off the calculated "living wage" though,not fun to live on at all. I don't know what I would have done if I'd got pregnant whilst working there.

RedToothbrush Fri 30-Nov-12 00:17:44

Employees don't tend to employ anyone...

But I've been under the 14k mark for years, mainly cos the market in the industry has been oversaturated by people wanting to get into it.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 30-Nov-12 00:17:45

Because you get tax credits if you are on that low a wage. However, it is disgraceful that companies pay so little.

HappyJoyful Fri 30-Nov-12 00:20:26

YANBU but there are a huge amount of jobs out there that pay that sort of wage - infact, I think that could be above minimum wage, I know where I work in a charitable organisation we have a member of staff earning less, as does my husband for horticultural work. It's soul destroying but true.

AThingInYourLife Fri 30-Nov-12 00:20:38


DrCoconut Fri 30-Nov-12 00:27:29

My DH earned under £12k for full time work last tax year. It was only just under but still, his employer takes the pee big time but not for much longer because he's leaving. When DS2 was born DH was better off on paternity leave because SPP was more than his pay less travel costs!

KenAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 00:31:15

Sorry, employers!

BertieBotts Fri 30-Nov-12 00:35:08

Minimum wage for 37 hours per week for 50 weeks of the year is £11,452 before tax. So yes, it's over minimum wage. In fact, if you're under 21 minimum wage for 37 hours a week 50 weeks of the year is £9,582 - less than £10,000 shock

I guess ideologically it's supposed to work that you start off on minimum wage while still living at home or house sharing and then move up to a wage which is high enough to buy property and/or support a family, but unfortunately not everyone ever gets off that first "rung", nor do all industries work like a ladder... if you want to talk in metaphors grin it's more like a giant snakes and ladders board where you're stuck on one level for ages unless you're lucky enough to find a ladder and god help you if you hit a snake and have to go right back to the beginning again!

youngermother1 Fri 30-Nov-12 00:45:20

Trouble is, most companies pay what it takes to get employees/what they can afford. If the supermarkets, for example, paid more, then groceries would cost everyone more and everyone would complain about the cost of food.
Most companies operate in a global environment and people around the world work for less. The reason we have few clothes manufacturers in this country is that they are too expensive compared to overseas.
Some companies (M&S) tried to remain with UK suppliers, but people stopped shopping there as too expensive, so they were forced to source overseas to stay in business (about 10 years ago IIRC).
No easy answer I am aware of.

TheDarkestNight Fri 30-Nov-12 00:53:15

The under 21 wage thing irks me a bit, I know it's supposed to be an incentive to hire younger people, but it really ends up being too little to live on. Not everyone can live with their parents until they're 21. I agree that the MW should reflect the price of living, otherwise people are forced to choose between poverty and 'benefit scrounging'.

youngermother1 Fri 30-Nov-12 01:25:24

Playing devils advocate. I have a business that makes a profit paying minimum wage but a loss paying 'living' wage.
Should I close the business, affect my suppliers and reduce the countries exports and sack my employees or pay the minimum wage?

Darkesteyes Fri 30-Nov-12 02:01:16

youngermother1Fri 30-Nov-12 00:45:20

Trouble is, most companies pay what it takes to get employees/what they can afford. If the supermarkets, for example, paid more, then groceries would cost everyone more and everyone would complain about the cost of food.

It cant have escaped your notice that there are food banks springing up all over the country.

StuntGirl Fri 30-Nov-12 02:05:02

£15k is quite a bit over minimum wage. That's a good salary to a lot of people. There are many working even full time who don't make that much.

MammaTJ Fri 30-Nov-12 06:53:38

I earn way under that. I 'only' work 33 hours a week though.

My DP gave up a better paid job because transport costs to where he was working were high, so he took a lesser paid job and got more tax credits for a while (till he got a promotion).

singingmum Fri 30-Nov-12 07:04:59

15000 would be a dream for us. My dp works 38hrs a week as a supervisor in a local supermarket. He earns after tax less than 10000 and he's on about 10p over the minimum wage. Its a nightmare as he took the promotion hoping we'd be better able to cope with less benefits ie rent benefit etc. We have ended up worse off as we have no rent benefit at the moment and our son turned 18 and didn't get on the course at college as over subscribed. We are approximately(until council decide if we can have about £80 rent b off of our 420 rent) £600 down as we now pay full rent and we are supporting our son while he looks for work so same outgoings.
Minimum wage is just crap but even when you move up the ladder you get screwed
We are wondering if it was worth him moving up at the moment

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Nov-12 07:43:27

Owning a house and choosing to have children are lifestyle choices not essentials. People have to budget according to their incomings.

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 07:56:51

wow, I take my hat off to people who manage and work for 15k full time. Our part time wage for 4hrs a day is 12k!!

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 07:57:17

that includes 35 days holiday!

LucieMay Fri 30-Nov-12 07:58:14

It also depends where you live in the country. Nurseries round here cost nowhere near £800 a month. I know loads of people round here, in Lancashire, on less than 15k. Don't forget you get working tax credits and child tax credits on low incomes.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 07:59:22

People always assume people on that wage get tax credits. Well I don't and I'm not eligible for them either!
I'm on 13.5k and I make it work, because I have to. It's easy for you to ask how if you've never had to do it, but it is doable. It's not brilliant, but life's not too bad.

Vickibee Fri 30-Nov-12 08:00:26

Even if you rent you are paying out half your wages in rent, and has to be topped up with HB etc. I guess I am lucky as I work 25 hours pw and earn 15K and live in a cheap part of the country. it is school hours so only need child care in hols. It does cost about £100 pm in petrol to travel to work though which is a sizeable chunk.

BertieBotts Fri 30-Nov-12 08:07:03

So only rich people should have children?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 30-Nov-12 08:08:14

YABU to be shocked. It's over minimum wage and whilst it may not be enough to buy a house etc, not everyone has families and big financial commitments. Most of us started off in lower paid work when young/inexperienced/unqualified and moved up the ladder from there.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 30-Nov-12 08:09:36

"So only rich people should have children?"

Responsible people take on commitments they can reasonably afford. 'Rich' doesn't come into it.

KenAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 08:11:33

Sorry, I know £15k isn't minimum wage, but you'd get more government help on minimum wage. I'm taking about those who earn just a bit too much to get help but not enough to comfortably live on.

singing that's terrible, that's clearly not an entry level position. The role I saw that prompted this post was for a Web Designer. That requires qualifications, knowledge of various computer languages and they were only paying £15k!

lotsofdogshere Fri 30-Nov-12 08:15:38

What if the supermarkets paid better wages, and made slightly less profits? I don't expect the world would end, would it. I have mixed feelings about tax credits, I absolutely accept people need them, but is it right that they enable multinationals making massive profits pay their employees less than a living wage. What if Starbucks etc paid the proper levels of tax here, wouldn't that be a miracle.

LucieMay Fri 30-Nov-12 08:16:19

"I'm taking about those who earn just a bit too much to get help but not enough to comfortably live on."

No you still get quite a lot of help in working and child tax credits at £15k.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 08:20:03

Loads of people I know who live on my wage and less, have had multiple children and live on top up benefits. I don't want that for myself though, or my future kids. I'd love a baby right now but going to wait until I've done my midwifery degree and am employed.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 08:21:11

luciemay you don't get anything if your under 25 and childless. It's easy to keep saying people get top ups. I and many others don't.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 08:21:51

Sorry that was too the OP not you luciemay

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 08:21:59


WaitingForMe Fri 30-Nov-12 08:24:20

I got my break in marketing with a charity job. It paid about minimum wage but I worked closer to 50 than 37 hours. My fuel costs were roughly 20% of my take home. I was living in a bedsit with no central heating.

It was fantastic for me. I doubled my salary when I moved jobs and now run a marketing agency (this all in last three years).

It was all the charity could pay and I was so grateful for the opportunity. I do think there are big problems with the job market but have no idea how I'd have started my career without such a low paying start.

KenAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 08:28:16

As for having kids, I agree that you should do what you can afford. For us, buying a house and having a decent amount of savings was important before we had kids, but its different for everyone.

lotsofdogs exactly what I was thinking. I suppose we then we get into the grey area of how to determine which companies are big enough to pay a better wage and which aren't though.

camdancer Fri 30-Nov-12 08:31:01

I'm involved with setting wages in a preschool. We get a set amount of money from the council. We have to have certain staff:child ratios. Even though we are a charity so don't have to make a profit, the wages are still ridiculously low. We would love to raise salaries further but we just can't afford it. It isn't always about putting profits before people.

KenAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 08:33:21

This is the job I was looking at before I posted. It's listed under graduate jobs, so you would also have to pay your student loan back if you took the job as I think the minimum you earn before you start paying it back is £15k:

»Hard code signed-off static designs from Photoshop into HTML, CSS and JavaScript websites
»Build coded websites into our own bespoke Content Management System
»Oversee the transition of all built sites within the company into the Content Management System
»Test and health check all built sites, using multiple browsers and platforms to identify any weaknesses and repair accordingly
»Preparing the new sites for customer handover on our development servers prior to content population
»Assisting the Production Co-ordinator to maintain planned project schedules, and help ensure that new sites are delivered on time

»A sound knowledge of current web design trends, technologies and techniques is a must
»Proficiency in HTML, CSS, JavaScript is paramount, whilst a good knowledge of ASP would be beneficial
»A passion for producing an exciting, engaging user experiences within front-end web designs
»Knowledge of coding for Flash web animation would be a plus
»An ability to remain calm whilst under pressure with strong time management skills would also be advantageous
»Familiarity of using Adobe Creative Suite software, especially Photoshop and Illustrator
»Able to intelligently take a design from Photoshop and slice it ready for the build process

Cozy9 Fri 30-Nov-12 08:58:55

I think the threshold for paying back Student loan is £16k, not 15.

Anyway, plenty of people earn less than 15k and manage to get by ok.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 30-Nov-12 09:02:45

I didn't mind the low salary in my previous job so much,as I understood it was an entry level job. I find it disheartening when I see jobs advertised asking for years of experience xyz qualifications and the salary offered is 15k. I'm not wildly unreasalistic in my saley expectations,but I would like to one day earn 18k.

I used to work in a supermarket in last job but one. The salaries paid to supermarket supervisors and even managers are shockingly low given the hours required (often over 40)and the responsibility the jobs actually entail. Which is something a lot of people don't realise from the outside looking in.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 30-Nov-12 09:06:17

Cozy - it is 16k. On a 16k salary you pay £1.54 pm back on your student loan. I've yet to have to start paying any back.

However,I did a postgraduate degree and the loan involved there,well,lets just say the bank really doesn't care how much I earn or if I even have a job,they'll be having their money every month. Lots of people are in the same position there.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 30-Nov-12 09:51:13

Youngermother1: If your business is only able to function by underpaying your staff, then your business plan is faulty and you deserve to go bust.

flatpackhamster Fri 30-Nov-12 10:06:18


Youngermother1: If your business is only able to function by underpaying your staff, then your business plan is faulty and you deserve to go bust.

What business do you run? You're clearly an expert.

Hammy02 Fri 30-Nov-12 10:58:48

Because unemployment is so high, employers can take the mick paying far less than they would have 10 years ago. I never would have thought I'd be earning as little as I do now. I am on less than my graduate starting salary over 15 years ago. Generally due to employer's greed.

financialwizard Fri 30-Nov-12 11:01:50


Youngermother1 said that she paid NMW, therefore is not underpaying her staff.

I do think the OP is NBU. 15k is not enough on it's own to get a decent affordability calculator for a mortgage, so as a single person with or without children, you would have to save very very hard to get a deposit big enough to afford a property anywhere. Of course the initial lay out for rent is cheaper, but in the long run rent is statistically higher per month than a mortgage. Catch 22 situation anyone?

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 30-Nov-12 11:10:54

Then try and work out how to save for a pension on top?!

MoomieAndFreddie Fri 30-Nov-12 11:14:25

as i have said loads of times, it is the stupidly high cost of living thats the problem

10 years ago i was on 15k and pretty comfortable. i was single, no dcs and rented a lovely little house with my then boyfriend, we had plenty of disposable cash, ran a car each, had nights out, holidays etc, and never had to claim any benefits

its scary "these days" how different things are, in my area (midlands) you can't rent a private house for less than about £600 a month, and if you are only earning £1k a month after tax you have sod all to live on, never mind treats etc

dreamingofsun Fri 30-Nov-12 11:23:22

many of my IL's earn this sort of amount - but they manage becauase they live in a cheap area of the country. to have the same - albeit basic standard of living here - you would have to earn another 10k - ie be on 25k. London would be even worse.

trouble is if there was a big rise in minimum wage, as you suggest, people higher up the pay scale would also demand pay increases. otherwise why would you supervise people if you don't get more money? Plus in the company i work for you wouldn't get paid overtime either if you are a manager. this would fuel inflation and so any increase would be wiped out anyway.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 11:23:26

People cannot afford to live off that wage. If it's the only source of household income then tax credits/housing benefit will bump it up to a livable wage.

If it's a secondary source then employers think it's OK to pay this level, usually a second earner is a woman with a man to shoulder the main household expenses.

If it's a single earner no kids, then see first paragraph, they have to rent somewhere fairly cheap or rely on housing benefit.

spoonsspoonsspoons Fri 30-Nov-12 11:37:21

My employer has just committed to paying all staff a living wage but that's still only 14.4k

Yabu to think 15k outside of London is not a living wage.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 11:46:16

People cannot afford to live off that wage. If it's the only source of household income then tax credits/housing benefit will bump it up to a livable wage

YES THEY CAN. I have said 3 times now that people do. I do, I receive no benefits.

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 11:59:31

well done ghostships. people can and do live on what is within their means. Not too long ago i lived on about £125 a week. now a day i have a vast wage avalible to me, and still some months it is not enough!

Oblomov Fri 30-Nov-12 11:59:48

That graduate job listed surely can't be under 15k? shock
Its very tecnical, for under 15k.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:01:59

Ghostship, there's no way we could afford to live on £15K. Good for you that you can. With bills, mortgage, nursery fees etc we pay out all of DH's and my wages, and student loans that I get for doing my degree (which again I will have to pay back).

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:03:37

twofaced exactly, people just live within their means. I don't have much, but I wouldnt consider myself poor. I have food, a roof over my head, I'm happy, working, studying, volunteering grin
I'm not rich in monetary terms but in everything else I feel I am.

But anyone earning 15k can do it. You get a smaller place, in a cheaper area. You have cheaper meals, get cheap clothes.

dreamingofsun Fri 30-Nov-12 12:03:39

is it full-time? if so they are obviously hoping to get someone on the cheap and expecting them to stay only for a short time whilst they get their CV together

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:07:01

Saycool - you wouldn't be able to now because you've acquired a mortgage, but if it happened you would have to. You'd have to find a way to keep your costs down. It wouldn't be nice, but it could be done. You'd do it for the sake of your family, you can't just cease to exist can you? We all live within our means, you have yours now and I have mine. If our circumstances were to change we'd have to adapt. I don't believe in 'can't', because we have to.

It would be nice if we all got that little bit more, but it wouldn't work because as minimum wage rises, other costs rise too.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:07:39

And I love your username, I'm thinking of Stewie right now grin

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 12:08:41

people now a days consider 'luxury' items, to be essential.

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 12:10:48

although i do realise that people wil them struggle to 'down size' if taking a pay cut/ loosing job etc.

We would be buggered! grin

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:11:02

I actually agree with that twofaced.

Things like sky tv, phone lines, internet. People plead poverty yet still afford these things. You don't know true skint if you think that is!

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:13:05

I'd rather be like I am now, than be someone who was comfortably well off, but then lost their job or had financial difficulty and had to downsize. Because I've never had extravagant things, I don't miss them. But I can imagine it being so so hard for someone to get rid of all they have and know, to go to something smaller which for them might be awful but for some would be great.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:14:00

grin I'm glad someone knows what it means!

I know what you mean, we'd HAVE to survive, but it seems like we're struggling so much now, we'd never be able to cope living on any less.

TBH it's nothing really to do with what employers pay - mine is really good considering I'm part time. DH's is another story.... BUT it's a steady job that he's been in 6 years and they're very flexible with things like time off to help irrational pregnant wives etc. grin If he got a better job, we might have more money BUT the quid pro quo would be that we'd see him less and he'd be more stressed and tired etc.

I haven't really answered anything, just rambled. But I'm 23 weeks pg and hormonal so I'll sit on you if you argue with me.

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 12:15:04

excatly! having cars, tv, phones, games consols (sp?). people moan about not having any money, but then have plenty for fags!! as an ex smoker i knew when i was truely skint, because i couldnt buy ciggies! grin

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:15:52

Haha I'm just rambling too, please don't sit on me otherwise I might be sick! Got this awful bug that everyone seems to be getting...

SayCoolNowSayWhip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:16:14

I think it's also to do with the area you're in as well. I'm in the South, and wages (and living costs!) seem to be higher than in the North. There aren't many fulltime jobs going that would pay under £15K.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Fri 30-Nov-12 12:17:59

Look, I NEED my 50 inch plasma screen and my Sky TV with all 80 million channels, k? <Lights cigarette, cracks open can of Stella>

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 12:20:49

It would be VERY hard for us to downsize, obviously if we had to then we would. But it would feel like a really hardship.

We are lucky to be able to buy without thinking, and spend money on what we want and be very frivoulous with our money.

I find it hard enough having to remember to carefully add up in a shop if i have forgotten my card and just have a tenner for example! So i really take my hat off to people who manage on that wage, and are happy!

TwoFacedCows Fri 30-Nov-12 12:21:32

shock smoking while pregger!!! shock grin

bondigidum Fri 30-Nov-12 12:26:24

I can't talk about childcare because I don't use it, I do know its uber pricey but aren't there childcare vouchers?

Anyway, rent wise it depends where you live. Where I live up North average rent for 3 bed house is £550. Most pay in the region of £400-£550 per month which is easily done on £15k (or less) per year. Also council tax is less up here (£80-£110 per month). Does food cost more down south? I do recall paying 70p for a mars bar down there which was 50p up north at the time anyway. So what i'm saying is whilst, say, 12k isn't going to get you far down south (probably wouldnt even cover rent) up North that is enough (most families have top ups of tax creds and child benefit as well). We could get by on 15k easily with 3 DC.

samandi Fri 30-Nov-12 12:27:06

People are desperate, they can pay what they want.

samandi Fri 30-Nov-12 12:28:37

Oblomov - I've seen plenty of technical graduate jobs advertised recently for around £13000. The same jobs that a few years ago would've been £18000.

bondigidum Fri 30-Nov-12 12:36:37

And yes I second what people say about luxury items. We don't drive for a few reasons- one being we can't afford to, but soo many people who apparently have no money drive. Even if its a cheap car they're not cheap to run what with petrol, insurance, tax, m.o.t and repairs even if the car itself was only £500.

Sky/virgin as well. A lot of people will say they're skint whilst watching sky sports.. And smoking/drinking too, with games consoles and plasma TVs.

Controversially maybe I don't believe anyone in the UK can say they are in true poverty. Poverty to me is starving, dehydrated, no home etc. In this country we have benefits so people don't end up like that, we also have free healthcare and education. This country helps people out a lot, we are very fortunate.

I live in the South West and frankly, you're lucky to find a job paying that in my area. I work full time and only just earn that and I work for one of the highest paying employers in the area. In tourist regions where people are struggling to even find poorly paid seasonal work, £15k is considered a 'good' job / decent wage....even though you can't really live on it given that we've got some of the highest house prices, water rates etc in the country. It does annoy me but then we live in a beautiful part of the country despite the poverty and deprivation around here and walk our dogs on the beach at the weekends so you win some you lose some I suppose.

FredFredGeorge Fri 30-Nov-12 12:47:06

KenAdams but that job is in reality a continuation of your training - someone who at 21 has the skills to do that, should, if they're any good, have the experience added to the skills to do a 400+ a day contract in 10 years time. It is an entry level position in a profession, it's not a lifetime wage, so with that as your example YABVU.

The real situation though is that you're comparing a job, with the costs of buying a house, nursery etc. And yes there will be lots of jobs which do not fund that lifestyle, however there are also lots of single people with no nursery costs who share a house with friends or live with parents who'll have disposable income on that wage.

Whilst the arguments against a minimum wage are often over done, it is a regressive tax on the poor really - most of the employers of minimum wage people are providing universal services (supermarkets etc.) and pushing up the price of their goods by a higher minimum wage impacts the poorest the most (because a higher proportion of their income goes on the goods). So you cannot have a minimum wage that is too high without harming groups you don't really want to harm.

Sparrowp Fri 30-Nov-12 13:04:36

Some people on the minimum wage expect bloody luxuries like food and water. Didn't have that in my day. We all lived on fresh air and sunshine, and it didn't do us any harm.

They should be grateful for any job, its not really a job anyway its training, shouldn't have to pay them anything at all really. We're doing people a favour paying as high as the minimum wage. Some people expect a roof over their head but I've slept in a tent before, I don't see why they can't all do that if they expect some disposable income.

Sparrowp Fri 30-Nov-12 13:05:09


Sparrowp Fri 30-Nov-12 13:08:44

Its only temporary for everyone to earn below a living wage. In 60 years time they'll have the "experience" and "skills" to be earning millions per minute.

Sparrowp Fri 30-Nov-12 13:09:38

When you grow up in 90 years time, you'll be able to afford a house too.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 13:16:39

15K is just over £1,000 take home a month. How much rent can you afford out of that without needing HB? If you have children then this amount is not deemed enough household income to live on. Tax credits top it up.

Sparrowp Fri 30-Nov-12 13:16:40

In this country we've got electricity, you can't be in poverty if you've got electricity. In some countries they don't even have electricity, that's real poverty.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 13:17:03

grin @ Sparrow

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 13:18:14

Scrazy - as I have stated numerous times, under 25's cannot claim tax credits. How do you suppose we survive then if it's 'impossible' to live on? confused

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 13:19:29

Ghostship, do you have children?

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 13:23:11

No. And I'm not on 15k either, 13.5k

porpentine Fri 30-Nov-12 13:26:41

I find many of the responses on this thread shockingly callous. In particular, the suggestion that somehow the very poor in the UK aren't 'really' poor is deluded. There are thousands and thousands of children in Britain right now without enough to eat - does hunger somehow feel different in Salford than it does in Sao Paolo?

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 13:29:05

I think the difference is in the UK those poor could get help. In Sao Paolo what is there?

porpentine Fri 30-Nov-12 15:11:12

Obviously access to good-quality free healthcare and education is a massive bonus. But I think the extent of poverty suggests that the limited financial help available from the state is inadequate - people are getting help, but clearly not enough to stop them going hungry. Given the huge rise in food prices (c. 40% since 2005) and the reduction of help available since then, it's not surprising - hence the spread of food banks.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 15:20:17

Don't get me wrong I get what you're saying, I just think that there's different levels of poverty.

It saddens me that the majority of kids living in poverty over here, it could be prevented. We're not a third world country, there's enough help available if someone choses to seek it (benefits, hostels, food banks etc) . But children have to depend on their parents, and thats the problem in cases where the parents are the reason they're in poverty, whether it be drug or drink issues or whatever.

In third world countries there is no choice. They have no options. They have no free healthcare.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 15:34:40

I agree with your last post Ghostship. The safety net in the UK does provide enough to survive on. It's sad for children who's parents are not prioritizing their needs for whatever reason.

I can see that someone who is childless, in shared accommodation can survive on this income.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 30-Nov-12 16:03:21

Our rent is £1000 per month for a small 2-bed terraced house. Last year I looked around for somewhere cheaper to live, thinking that would help. However, it wouldn't have done, because a cheaper home would have meant a cut in housing benefit - also, getting a new home while on housing benefit and with an unstable income would have been almost impossible.

Having internet access is pretty much essential: all the work I actually get needs me to use the internet, to transmit finished work to the client.

Being poor is expensive, as well. You end up paying extra for things because you can't pay big lump sums: I hate the weeks when I have to scrabble round and top up my Oyster card daily rather than getting a weekly pass, simply because I haven't got enough in one go for the pass - it actually costs quite a bit more. I have to buy cheap shoes for DS because I haven't got the price of a good pair at one time, so I end up spending more in the long run.

FredFredGeorge Fri 30-Nov-12 16:08:44

The 40% increase in food prices is also misleading (and simply inaccurate on any measure I can find) - and in any case it ignores substitutions it's on a standardised set, but the reality is if beef has doubled in price, you might by fish instead if you were short on money.
(Fish increasing 16% between 2007 and 2012 and Meat 32% see Defra's report)

More importantly it's only returned the cost of food to the cost in the 90's - so food is still cheap relative to wages on a historical basis.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Nov-12 16:13:22

Porpentime, if children dont have a winter coat, shoes or a bed to sleep in then they dont need charity but agencies like social services.

All children currenty get child benefit, those on low incomes have tax credits on top and those not working at all can actually have a higher household income than many working people so there is no excuse at all to not provide those things for a child.

Taking finances into account when planning for children should be something everybody does, sadly many dont. They then cant moan that wages are low and they then cant afford everything. Its not like people dont see that children come with many expenses.

porpentine Fri 30-Nov-12 16:15:06

We differ then, in that I don't think the safety net in the UK does provide enough to survive on for many people. I think there's a great investment in trying to portray poverty as a moral issue - if their children are going hungry it's because they're not prioritising their needs and have just spent all their money on Sky - when it's basically an economic one.

To take the statistic I quoted, if there's been a 40% rise in the cost of food since 2005 and in the same period real wages have stagnated and state help has diminished - not even taking into account rising costs of housing, fuel etc. - then clearly a certain proportion of people are going to struggle through no fault of their own. Yes, some people can cut back, but some people don't have anything to cut. I think to suggest that the majority of people whose children are literally going hungry are doing so because those people are lazy or selfish or whatever is misleading and unfair.

FredFredGeorge Fri 30-Nov-12 16:20:36

porpentine I don't think anyone is suggesting that the majority of people struggling are lazy or selfish, just that firstly the cost of food as a proportion of income is still very low historically, that the lowest income groups continue to have access to luxury goods unknown in large parts of the world, that there's a problem with the awareness of what safety nets are available resulting in low uptakes etc.

For me it's the idea that people in the UK with large safety nets available - if they need them - are some how more demanding than people in other countries with no safety nets that I find unreasonable.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 16:29:02

Ghost ship - of course you can live on £15k if you have no kids, many people do it. It's not possible when you have kids and childcare costs though.

Minimum wage needs to increase.

lololizzy Fri 30-Nov-12 16:29:07

I earn 11.5 k , work full time, charity job. Lots of unpaid hours too. I get no benefits, no working tax credits. Is it hard? Yes. Is it doable? Also, yes. I also had to do it for months on half that amount, with no benefits.Don't live beyond your means!

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 16:31:36

Jack -
For one, it's 13.5k.
For two, many people havent mentioned the need for kids so I just said that I manage.
and three, yes it still is possible.
Its ridiculous to say it isn't. It's not easy, but its possible.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 16:49:16

Not in the city I live in its not, not without tax credits.

Hydrophilic Fri 30-Nov-12 16:49:55

You can only get WTC (without DC) if you work FT. I have got a pt job that pays a pittance. It's all I have been able to get.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 16:50:34

You do realise that there'll already be people in your city already doing it.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 16:51:05

Hydrophillic - and if you're over 25. I work FT and cant get it because I'm 21.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 16:53:25

Not without tax credits!

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 17:04:12

And you know this... how?

Under 25's cannot claim tax credits, unless they have a child. But that does not mean that they all claim tax credits. Some won't know about them, some will want to be under the radar. Whatever reason, there will be people out there with children, living on that wage, with no top ups.
If it needs to be done it can be. Simple as.

And its funny how you say that obviously I can survive on 15k without children.
I then replied I have no children, but survive on only 13.5k. Would a baby cost 1.5k a year?

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:11:17

Read my posts properly. I said that of course it was possible if you don't have a child.

Yes. If you are working and need childcare then that's way more than £1.5k a year (unless you are lucky enough to have free childcare).

There may well be people in other parts of the country that can do it, yes. But if you're earning less than £1k a month and your rent is £700, then it isn't possible, no. Especially if you have to pay childcare as well. Even wraparound care for school can cost £15 a day where I am.

But then it's a moot point - because anybody in this situation will be eligible for tax credits.

dreamingofsun Fri 30-Nov-12 17:13:50

our first baby cost over 10k a year and that was 19 years ago. its called childcare.

porpentine Fri 30-Nov-12 17:18:05

HappyMummy - we agree that charity is a rotten solution to child poverty. .

Fred - a few people have suggested that child poverty is a result of parental moral failing: that's pretty clearly what HappyMummy is suggesting above and both Scrazy and GhostShip argued it was the result of parents not prioritising their children's needs.

As I understand it, there clearly is a marked increase in this country as elsewhere in food insecurity - not just the Save the Children Report but the increase in food banks and in the demand for them - and it seems frankly perverse not to connect this to the world economic situation. I can't see that poor British families - and by poor, as I said, I mean inability to provide the basics of warmth and food - are less poor simply because they live in a country where many people also have nice TVs.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 17:24:54

And you read mine properly, which you haven't because you haven't answered my question.

There will be women out there, who aren't claiming tax credits, who earn 15k and have a child. How do you know there aren't? Very naive. I know people who do. So I'm pretty sure that there'll be people in your town who do.

Childcare isn't always an issue, some people don't have to pay it, some workplaces have creches.

It's a pointless argument this anyway, but its silly to say its impossible when its reality for people.

expatinscotland Fri 30-Nov-12 17:25:35

I think it should be illegal to pay under 21s or under 18s anything less than NMW. The days when adult children could live at home with Mum and Dad are evaporating.

BertieBotts Fri 30-Nov-12 17:26:14

A baby may well cost 1.5k a year or more in childcare!

Even if you take childcare out of the equation, you'll probably want an extra bedroom which will probably add at least £150-200 per month to renting costs and a chunk onto your council tax. Then you'll need clothes, nappies, extra food (including formula costs if you don't/can't breastfeed), a buggy or sling (at least one but most people find they need a couple of options), a car seat (the two most expensive kinds in the first year), a cot or at least a new mattress for one, and you'll go stir crazy at home so you'll want some money for activities to do, and toys. If you don't live right in the centre of town then cost of running a car may increase or bus/train fares. Your utilities will increase as a result of doing more washing, cooking, washing up/dishwashers and just generally having an extra person consuming water and using electricity.

And that's just the first year - when they get older clothes get more expensive, you have to buy shoes at £30 a pair, their toy preferences get vastly more expensive (games consoles, scooters, bikes, ipods, mobile phones!) and their appetite. Plus school trips, uniform, books, extracurricular activities (some of which might be in school, like swimming or music classes) and fundraising, and their furniture needs will increase too to things like beds, bookcases, toy and clothes storage, a desk, maybe a bigger dining table/sofa.

Children are expensive grin Makes me wonder what I spent money on before I had one!

BertieBotts Fri 30-Nov-12 17:27:43

I agree expat - it's silly to segregate minimum wage by age. It's like in times gone by women would have been paid much less than men because they were expected to be working for pin money whereas the man had a family to support. Over 21s aren't the only group supporting themselves any more.

BertieBotts Fri 30-Nov-12 17:29:14

Of course people survive on 15k a year, because they have to - my point was that to think you can compare 13.5k without children to 15k with children is misguided. It might be doable but there will be a big difference in lifestyle.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:30:29

Which question?

How do they manage then? Genuine question. Do they live with parents, or have free childcare? Creche? Heh - yes, I suppose they exist somewhere, but I've never come across them in a workplace.

Maybe there are a handful of people who struggle by on 15k or less with kids, without claiming anything. I was saying that unless you have some sort of help with housing costs or childcare then you just wouldn't have enough to pay your bills. Maybe you could houseshare? Very difficult to find a situation like that if you have kids though.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:31:47

And don't call me naive. You're the one who thinks a child costs less than 1.5k a year smile

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 17:35:42

No you wasn't saying that at all, you were saying no-one possibly does it. You didn't say anything about housing costs and childcare. You said no-one with a child can live in your city on that wage.

I said they can, which they do.

And the child costing 1.5k a year didn't include childcare, because it was my example and I wouldn't need it.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:37:17

I earn about £15k btw. I'd be entitled to a significant chunk of HB and WTC/CTC if I were a lone parent, so I'd claim them. I don't really see why you'd not claim them confused

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 17:38:59

Personally I'd claim them if I were eligible so I agree, but some people want to be under the radar so to speak.

TiggyD Fri 30-Nov-12 17:41:20

Avoid nurseries then. Some trainees that will be looking after your children get as little as £2.65 per hour.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:43:36

Well, you'd pay tax and NI on that extra 1.5k, so take a big chunk off that.

No, I suppose I didn't really spell it out i a really really clear way. I said in this city you wouldn't be able to do it. I stupidly thought that by saying 'living in this city' that covered things like housing costs confused

As an example - my sisters very average 2 bed flat is £900pcm. Yes, she could live in a 1bed, but she still wouldn't be able to pay her bills without tax credits etc.

GhostShip Fri 30-Nov-12 17:45:31

Sorry I meant help towards housing costs, not housing costs.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 17:45:43

But yes, I completely agree that it is possible if you live at home, or have free childcare, or similar! I never disputed that

TheReturnOfBridezilla Fri 30-Nov-12 18:00:21

I lived on a smidge over 15k for a few years when I was younger. No benefits but no children or car and in a houseshare in the town I worked in so no travel costs.

I managed, in fact I had a ball. Sometimes I had to choose between a night out and a pair of work shoes when mine had holes in or replacing a kettle or paying my phone bill or something like that and sometimes the night out won grin but in those days it was fun. For lots of people it really isn't.

I now earn quite a lot more, am married, have a mortgage, children, a car and don't know how anyone can have a secure, responsible life on that amount. If your washing machine breaks, you're screwed. If you miscalculate your bill dates, you get bank charges which take you months to recover from. I couldn't handle that level of insecurity now I have children.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 18:21:26

I have just gone through I said I was a single mother, 1 child, not working paying the same council tax that I paid when I was a single mum a couple of years ago and an average rent. It says I would have an income of £1294 per month. Council tax is £120 and rent £500. How would anyone not have enough to feed/clothe an adult and a child out of £155 a week left after housing costs? It's not possible to be short of food unless you are prioritizing other things.

I have always worked full time and my example above is receiving not much less than I was working, the difference was I had a smaller mortgage but had to run a car to get to work. Swings and roundabouts I wasn't much better off but could afford to feed and clothe us.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 18:26:01

Yes, that's net income though.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 18:26:46

And you've left off bills.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 18:32:45

Sorry - didn't mean to be short/rude. Posting from phone grin

Its actually a pretty good illustration. Entitled to says you would get £1294 per month to live on - you'd have to earn just over £18 a year to get that kind of net monthly income.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 18:37:47

Yes, I earned about that when I was a single parent. So that illustrates that it's not possible to live off less than 15K unless you are a single young person sharing housing cost.

I know all about bills to run a home. I have paid them all my adult life.

I'm all for social security but child starvation in the UK, provided everything is being claimed, needs intervention from social services not more benefits thrown at the family because clearly, something is wrong. It might just be a debt counseling issue.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 18:45:44

Like I said, didn't mean to be rude. Was distracted and posting from my phone

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 30-Nov-12 18:48:30

Scrazy: what about fuel bills and travel costs? TV license? Basic internet/phone package (it is almost impossible to function without some form of communication; it costs more to do lots of things via post and if you don't have a phone it will cost you a minimum of 60p to call someone from a phonebox.)

Mostly, the poor struggle because they are in debt. When you are poor, you get into debt because you have nothing to set against emergencies, whether that's the cooker packing up, the kids wrecking their winter coats and needing new ones, or getting stranded somewhere with the only option being to pay for a taxi. ANd the only people who will lend to the poor are the ones that charge a minimum of 400% interest.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 18:50:14

Jack, not it's fine.

It's just that someone further down named me as being someone who cannot see why people need food banks. I can, but it's not something that should be happening amongst families without other problems.

I'm well aware of the plight of the jobless and low paid being one of them myself.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 18:52:02

Solid, read my 2nd to last post. I will also add that I have had a couple of periods of claiming income support when I was made redundant over the years I was a single parent.

Scrazy Fri 30-Nov-12 18:52:44

'No it's fine' not 'not it's fine' blush

TalkinPeace2 Fri 30-Nov-12 18:54:41

50% of the working population earn less than £18,000
YANBU to be surprised

YABU to have not known already that wages disparity in the UK is offensive and propped up by Tax Credits.
And even the Economist is now in favour of Minimum wages

boaty Fri 30-Nov-12 18:55:29

There are a lot of ahem older people whose children have grown up who still live on these level wages. I spent years as a SAHM not through choice but out of necessity, we lived in an isolated area, childcare was non-existant, few local jobs, no transport, DH earned a bottom level wage.(pre minimum wage) We had to choose between food and heating frequently.
We managed to move into a town then I ended up taking on the role of full time carer for my elderly grandparents, granmother with dementia, until they passed away.
At the same time DHs health began to fail!
I managed to get a 'entry level' job and am now in my mid early 40s wink still on the 'entry level' job, pushing for advancement, but guess what, I'm competing against people a lot younger than me!
For those who say you shouldn't have children unless you earn a good wage, are they a rich persons luxury? We also need bottom level workers in the next generation.
My DC all are working now and paying into the system and all have a strong work ethic. DS2 is a graduate earning MW now. Hopefully he will get off the bottom but the bar is higher now, he applied for a graduate trainee position, but they wanted x number of years exprience! confused
Not everyone on 'entry level' jobs will be able to progress. Walk round the supermarket, DIY store, look at the staff, see the age range. In fact I know only a handful of people who earn above these kind of wages...
For a lot of us the minimum wage IS the national average!

bp300 Fri 30-Nov-12 20:53:31

Globally £15,000 is a very high wage. The problem is that the governments have increased the cost of living by manipulating markets. If interest rates weren't slashed to 0.5% houses would have fallen to an affordable lever. Rents have been inflated by the government paying large housing benefits. Governments printing money is causing increases in the prices of imported food and fuel.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 30-Nov-12 20:58:26

"globally" is an utterly irrelevant figure - all those involved with economic development know that "Purchasing Power Parity " is king

the problem with MN is that the posters think they are the demographic, but they are not because if they were then private school threads would die on the vine as such a low proportion of posters contributed

BridgetJonesPants Fri 30-Nov-12 21:46:28

My DP works 37 hrs p/w and his salary is only around £13k. I work p/t and mine is around £5k. We have one dd and get tax credits which obviously helps us.

We're lucky in that our mortgage is paid off and we have a good amount of savings behind us should we ever need them (we're both in our late 40's, have previously had well paid jobs, no debt and are generally good with our money).

However, if we had to pay a mortgage/rent, it would definitely be a struggle. Obviously we would manage if we had to, but I don't suppose it's much fun having to watch every penny or worrying how you'll manage till pay day.

I'm not sure what will happen to us when Universal credits come into force, maybe we'll no longer quality for tax credits because we have savings. Although I guess the otherside to that argument is why should we need tax credits when we have savings?

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 21:46:46

Yes, global figures are irrelevant in this instance.

Agree about rents being boosted by increased housing benefits. Well, actually it's the lack of council housing that's really the problem. If there was enough council housing, then the government wouldn't be subsidising the ever increasing landlord rates, and perhaps house prices/rental demand wouldn't have increased to such a crazy level.

So, to sum up. I blame Thatcher.


EdgarAllanPond Fri 30-Nov-12 21:53:10

they aren't 'getting away with it'

paying £15k or less is what you do for jobs where you can attract an appropriate candidate for £15k or less.

that is all.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 21:54:44

Which is why min wage needs an increase.

youngermother1 Fri 30-Nov-12 21:59:36

Actually global figures are important as jobs can easily be exported nowadays

milkysmum Fri 30-Nov-12 22:04:02

My husband has been earning around £12,000 a year for past 3 years- in the building trade which has obviously taken a hit recently- he works 40+ hours a week for this in all weathers and its knackering! we have now made the decision that it will make more sense for him to give up work for now and stay at home with the children (aged1 and 3) rather than paying out for childcare we can barley afford

fridgepants Fri 30-Nov-12 23:10:51

In some areas of the country that's a decent wage. Definitely where I grew up, where houses are £60k and most employment is unskilled manual labour or clerical jobs at the council.

I temped after graduation and then 'D'P was on 12k in admin (he wouldn't apply for anything better suited to his skills because 'only the rich kids get jobs hmm). My dad told me at the time that now I was graduated, I could start as a secretary, and if I was lucky, work my way up to being a PA. So I didn't think I'd ever really earn more. Even pre-recession, I saw a job advertised for a graduate with experience in merchandising and fluent Japanese for 15k, working for Muji.

I earn above the average salary for London, where I live. This is not enough to get a mortgage for a small flat, even if I could save £20k or so for the deposit. And people in London have children all the time - by the law of averages, some of them must be earning less than I am.

fridgepants Fri 30-Nov-12 23:13:16

"Poverty to me is starving, dehydrated, no home etc. In this country we have benefits so people don't end up like that"

You are fucking kidding me.

JackThePumpkinKing Fri 30-Nov-12 23:45:05



Alisvolatpropiis Fri 30-Nov-12 23:48:15

People live in poverty in the UK regardless of benefits.

youngermother1 Sat 01-Dec-12 00:34:38

Poverty in the UK is defined as two thirds average income - around £18k for a couple. Therefore £15k is defined as poverty.
Ironically, by this definition, the recession has reduced poverty in the UK as average income has fallen but benefits have not, so more people on above two thirds.
This was Gordon b's big scam - reduce poverty by increasing benefits to just above the relevant point.

badgeroncaffeine Sat 01-Dec-12 00:41:17

It's amazing how few people understand this very basic principle.

Under capitalism, people are a commodity, like sugar, paper or anything else.

If the ruling classes can create a surplus of people looking for work, their value as a commodity falls. This is why so many immigrants have been allowed in...they knew what they were doing!

youngermother1 Sat 01-Dec-12 01:26:50

nothing to do with immigrants - the UK is not an island in the employment world. large numbers of unskilled industries (steel, casting and forging, clothes etc) are out sourced - there is no need to bring in immigrants.
Also the 'ruling classes' do not have a choice. M&S were forced to go overseas for cheaper clothes as shoppers deserted them.
Th e honest answer is that the buyer is king - if the whole country only brought products from UK based companies that paid 30% tax and paid employees above minimum wage, that is the only companies that would survive and you would all be happy. - bankrupt, but happy

badgeroncaffeine Sat 01-Dec-12 01:33:36

Everything to do with immigrants (and other factors), but this country's decision to abandon the industries it had and depend on the financial sector didn't help.

But to say the mass immigration has nothing to do with it is utterly absurd. They will work for less and can work for less, en forces wages down...quite obviously.

youngermother1 Sat 01-Dec-12 01:49:18

Many people fail to understand basic economics. As a rich country you have two choices.
1. Close the borders to imports/have high import duties. This supports UK industry and employment but reduces choices and raises costs
2. allow global imports - much choice and low cost but low skilled jobs get exported to other countries.
How many of you have items made in China - each of those has forced down UK wages/lost jobs in the UK to overseas. You bought it because it was cheap and allowed you to afford more but this leads directly to lower paid/lost UK jobs.
Immigration only replaces the UK specific jobs (mainly nursing, agriculture and service jobs) - but again reduces the price of this to us.
Lots of people complain about the cost of childcare - how many rich childcare employees/childminders are there? Pay the more and childcare costs increase.

Darkesteyes Sat 01-Dec-12 02:02:42

youngermother1 when people cant afford to buy your product please try to remember that it is very likely because their employers are doing the same as you.

youngermother1 Sat 01-Dec-12 02:07:25

My earlier example was hypothetical rather than actual. My point was, what if the competition in Chinese - no change in the UK law impacts them, all it does is force me to close my business and no jobs for UK people - more benefits bills etc

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