Laundrettes are part of the pay-as-you-go economy [Image: Alamy Stock Photo].

Barbara Ellen makes good points in her Guardian article about the reasons poor people are forced to pay more for the essentials of life – although I can’t entirely endorse the way she writes about it.

The simple fact is, people with less money have less influence, and can therefore be coerced into forking out more of their precious cash for the necessities.

This means poor people find it increasingly hard to hold on to their cash, making it impossible to get a foothold on the ladder to prosperity – ensuring that the rich who prosper from their poverty have a continuing market to exploit.

This poor-pay-more rule applies to many of the most basic aspects of life. Let’s run through just a few.

Homes: jobless/low-income claimants can’t dream of getting a mortgage, which can work out cheaper than renting, and means that you at least have an asset and some security. So they rent, often in the notoriously extortionate private sector, at a cost their benefits may not completely cover, so they have to make up the difference.

Heating water (for baths, showers, washing up) can mean finding money for greedy meters. And heating their homes is a luxury that many people decide they can’t afford.

New clothes (for job interviews) – forget it. And one of the little acknowledged side-effects of the “vintage” trend is that even charity shops can get pretty expensive these days. Nor do they tend to own washing machines and tumble dryers, so they use laundrettes, pay-as-you-go-style again.

Food may be from a food bank or the cheapest takeaway or microwaveable ready meal they can find. Even as the pious continue to drone on about how cheap and easy it is make a “nourishing soup for the whole week!”, anyone half sane has worked out something different.

Even if they could stand this insulting hipster-slop day after day – is it the trendy millennial answer to workhouse gruel? – it would require ingredients, a kitchen that extends beyond one conked-out, grease-encrusted ring on a hob, utensils and the money for the gas or electricity to cook it.

Travel: skint people tend to live in areas with crummy public transport, can’t afford to own or run cars, nor invest in the type of travelcards that bring prices down, so again it’s often PAYG, the most expensive way to get around.

Moreover, people don’t have their own computer or affordable, decent wifi, so again they have to travel for these facilities. Mobile phones, which most people would deem a necessity, also tend to be PAYG and credit would be quickly used up, especially, for instance, if people were to ring expensive benefits helplines that blow their entire food budget for a week.

Source: The warped logic of making the poor pay more | Barbara Ellen | Opinion | The Guardian


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