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Should we have to ‘earn a living’?

The idea of ‘earning a living’, has been long ingrained into our society. Whether it’s family members, teachers, employers, friends or politicians, we are often reminded that ‘nothing comes for free’. However, what if we ought to get some things for free, or at least subsidised, so we could stop having to ‘earn a living’ and give ourselves some freedom from expenses?


We are all too aware of the significance of money and what role it plays in our society. Your financial situation will determine how you experience life and those with less wealth will most often not be exposed to the same opportunities as those at the top. As a charity working with homelessness and poverty, the consequences of having little or no money are seen everyday here. The reality is a constant battle to find the money for food, drink, energy, clothes, housing, and other necessities needed to simply live. This reality has increased dramatically over the last 10 years in the UK and is increasing everyday. Given how important money is in our lives, should we start to reconsider how we approach it?


According to the online dictionary, ‘earning a living’ is to: ‘earn the money needed for food, clothing, etc’. In other words, the essentials. These essentials, however, can become costly pretty quickly and mean that a huge chunk, if not all, of your hard-earned money is gone before even thinking about treating yourself. To consider this further, here are some average costs of the essentials:

  • Food: the average shopping expenditure for a household is £247, according to Shares Magazine. Alcohol and cigarettes will cost a further £56 per month.

Since 2008, wages have stagnated significantly. From April 2010 – April 2018, the median pre-tax weekly earnings of an employee fell by roughly 3%. In an effort to clarify what all these figures mean, it basically means that whilst living costs have increased greatly, the means by which you can afford to pay for it (your wage) have not. It is this growing reality of the squeeze on our wallets that should make us consider the idea that everyone deserves to have these essentials financially accessible. Many would agree that no one deserves to go hungry, be homeless or live without heating. Many would agree that no one deserves to be thrown into poverty due to the costs of these essentials. However, would as many agree to these costs being either completely or partially paid for each month, in order to stop people choosing either eating or heating each winter?

It’s important to stress that this piece isn’t advocating for everyone to be given Ferraris and 55” LED TV’s on behalf of the government. This about the basics and questioning the notion of ‘earning a living’ in today’s society. With regards to solutions, there are two ideas in particular that would allow for financial coverage to be achievable. These are: a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and a Real Living Wage. UBI would mean a basic monthly amount deposited to everyone to cover these costs, whereas a Real Living Wage would be a wage in line with the living costs of the country. Blog articles on both of these topics are already in planning, so keep up-to-date with our blog to read more about these interesting ideas in the future.

Discussing matters with money is always a tricky topic, but the reality is clear with what we face today. Poverty is on the rise, and the extent to which we pay for the basics is encouraging this worrying trend further. We must modernise our perception of money, as, in the end, if food and shelter is a right, then money is too.

Read our blog about a UBI experiment based in London here and our piece on the rising cost of living here.

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