Jonathan Vernon-Smith, a self styled consumer champion, is a radio presenter for the BBC. He took up Iain Duncan Smith's gauntlet when the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions famously suggested that it was possible to live on £53 a week. On his programme today, for BBC Three Counties Radio, JVS said he lived on that, and had £7 to spare.
|Iain Duncan Smith: photo: Wikipedia|
On April Fools' Day 2013, Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live on £53 per week as Work and Pensions Secretary, after a benefits claimant told the BBC he had £53 per week after housing costs. Subsequently a petition was started on change.org for him to do so for a year; it reached 300,000 supporters by 7:30 P.M. the next day, with further names added that evening at a rate of 12,000 per hour. The petition was handed in one week later with 460 thousand signatures
Jonathan Vernon-Smith's breakdown was £18 a week for electricity and water based on 1/52 of his annual bills, £2 a week on cat biscuits (but queried if pets were not a luxury that should be discounted), £20 a week on food, £5 a week on household and personal toiletries. This left him the remainder to fritter away on other luxuries that he famously craves, including his favourite wine, pinot grigio.
The reality was that he didn't actually live that sort of life. He was on his show every day that week, no doubt travelling around in his personal transport, enjoying heating supplied by the various offices he visits; he certainly wasn't slumming it at home.
I wondered if he factored in extra toilet flushes, extra loo roll, and extra heating costs, because he would have been spending more time at home consuming things like that, that the BBC provides for him while he's at work.
This lead me to wonder what else he'd left off? Is he planning to be buried at state expense? If not he'll need to keep up payments on insurance. I've paid £1.34 a month since I started earning, that will help with mine. Then there is insurance on home and contents to consider, unless he's hoping as a benefits person to get all that sorted for him, should a catastrophe arise.
Does he have gas? It's very important to factor in gas boiler maintenance, allow at least £3 a week to maintain that.
To the comment that he hadn't factored in clothing, he replied that people could buy clothes in charity shops. Fair do's. It still needs factoring in. I have purchased button up tee-shirts in the past from Age Concern, a third the cost of shop bought new, but you find they don't last - the collars go - so you would actually be replacing more frequently, so the longevity of such items is doubtful
Maybe he was thinking of taking up knitting as a hobby, or making his own clothes rather than pay for shop bought ones. Fine. Just remember to factor in the cost of sewing machines, knitting needles, cotton, wool, and materials.
So, he's not going to listen to the BBC on radio or watch tv? I bet! Come on, add £3 a week. On the other hand, he won't have a car to sit in to listen to the radio, either, so with no tv or radio in the house he wouldn't actually need a tv licence. Besides, with all the time he'll save not watching or listening, he can bake (oops! up goes the electricity bill) a few scones to help eek out the food budget, and save for his non existent clothing budget.
I'm still wondering how he's going to get around. He'll need to visit the library to use their internet service and computers as he won't be able to afford his own. His solution is to walk or use a bicycle. Nothing wrong with that. People walked everywhere before motorised transport was invented. Unless they were lucky enough to own a horse or ride on someone's cart, walking was the done thing. In fact, on my heritage blog I recall the story of a Houghton Regis lady who walked the 6 miles to Luton 6 days a week. But that was 160 years ago. But if you want a bicycle, JVS, you need to factor in the cost of buying that, even if it's second hand.
JVS on Facebook
JVS - show excerpt with Dame Anne Beg - audibo