On Wednesday the tory MP Lee Anderson claimed he can cook a meal for 30p. He also claimed that people who used food banks couldn’t budget or cook. Obviously, you can cook a meal for 30p, but not every meal. The baked beans I used for this picture were Asda’s own brand and as I have coeliac disease I had to use smaller slices of bread than average (gluten-free). Is that 30p meal filling enough and nutritious enough? It was for me because I could afford a bar of chocolate and lots of fruit between meals. If you’re a food bank user, even if you can budget and cook, you can’t do decent meals for 30p every time.
Jacob Rees Mogg once said that when one is short of money one could simply sell a few shares. He has had investments from an early age and has a company registered in the Cayman Islands. It is true that if I was short of money to buy my next meal, I have investments that I could turn into cash but this isn’t true of most people.
Could cooking lessons and budgeting lessons help people cope better? With spiralling energy costs we really need to help people insulate their homes and bring down energy bills. Smart meters tell us how much energy we are using daily but don’t really help us reduce demand. If community spaces were used for classes then people using food banks could be made aware of those classes if they were free. Cooking classes would have to take into account the circumstances of each individual. I have a new microwave and an air fryer, not everyone who goes to foodbank will have those. Then there will be people like me who need a special diet.
People really need more money so we need a higher minimum wage and higher benefits. We could even have volunteer roles such as litter picking that paid a small payment on top of benefits such as Universal Credit for example. People might do a morning of litter picking for an extra £20. We also need our members of parliament to accept lower salaries and stop claiming expenses for things the rest of us pay for out of our disposable income. I also think a maximum wage for people in the civil service of £80,000 a year would be a great populist policy for Boris to embrace.
Incidentally, my beans on toast on gluten-free bread cost more than 30p. The tin of beans was 25p and a gluten-free loaf was £1.50.