Readers familiar with my blog know we live on a tight budget and I am Queen of the Spreadsheets. I have one for the accounts, one for the house, one for food, one for the car, one for utilities………. you get the idea.
I have done posts in the past about trying to save money on our food bill and making ends meet by adding more veg, using less meat, or reducing the portion size.
For years I have noticed weights reducing and prices rising, and know that it is not us consuming more but the fact that there is less of it.
So, when I saw this headline today (source)
We’re pricing the poor out of food in the UK
I homed in.
“It was reported last week that the consumer price index (CPI) measure for inflation rose to 5.4% in December, the highest level for nearly 30 years. The CPI and the retail price index (RPI) are used interchangeably to document the rising price levels of groceries and household goods across the UK. Yet they only tell a fragment of the story of inflation, and grossly underestimate the true cost-of-living crisis.
A collection of 700 pre-specified goods that includes a leg of lamb, bedroom furniture, a television and champagne seems a blunt and darkly comical tool for recording the impact of inflated grocery prices in a country where two and a half million citizens were forced by an array of desperate circumstances to use food banks in the last year.”
I’ve always thought that ‘the shopping basket’ used to calculate inflation figures is a joke for Joe Public and those on low incomes. You can’t eat bedroom furniture, but I suppose you could burn it, and a new TV to drink your champagne in front of is all very nice, but that does not help families already below the breadline, and if anything rubs salt into an open wound that will never heal. Our article author is quite right that the budget lines in our supermarkets are limited, and when Covid first took hold, shelves were cleared of the basics, leaving only the most expensive brands that most of us can’t afford.
On top of that, the quality of ‘budget’ goods recently in our supermarkets has been abysmal and now I am paying that little bit extra for what we can eat, rather than save a few pence and throw half of it away.
The stock cube example is a classic. I buy chicken and veg stock cubes from the discount supermarket for 39p for a box of 12. That has recently gone up from 35p, but at least I am still getting a dozen. I stopped buying the favoured brands when a box of 12 went up to over a pound, and I had to laugh when a special offer was a box of 18 was £1.50, whereas further along and on a lower shelf, a box of 24 was the same price.
Shopping these days isn’t just a matter of grabbing a trolley and putting things in it. It’s non stop calculations trying to get value for money and catering for the family’s needs, so for busy parents doing the weekly shop, it is a nightmare.
IMO, in order for our politicians to have any idea how the lower paid are living, they need to live on a tight budget for at least a year, no handouts, no expense accounts, no savings (as most people have exhausted those years ago) and no-one to do the legwork. I’d love to see how they get on, but then they’ll probably be too busy sipping champagne in front of their oversized tellies whilst their minions put together the latest bedroom fitment and The Cook is preparing a roast lamb dinner.