Money Matters

The Cost of Living

The Cost of Living (2003) besides being a piece by Lloyd Newson, performed by DV8, is a topic that is discussed absolutely everywhere and with the new year many things change, including the cost of the London Underground. Do not get me wrong, I do believe that the London Underground is one of the best metro systems I have experienced, in the world, and this is in comparison to my experiences in New York City, Paris and Brussels. I see our system as modern and believe that the TFL organisation is very convenient with their night buses and ‘Boris Bikes’. The only flaw I see is the price of a ticket.

As of the 2nd of January 2013 the price of using the TFL network went up, again. UK inflation currently stands at 2.7% and the ticket prices have gone up this year, on average, by 4.2%! By my maths that is totally unfair and disproportionate to, you guessed it, the cost of living. When I used the Underground system last night I was shocked to discover that my off-peak journey from zone 4 to zone 1 would cost me £2.70, this means that when I do not have any cash on me, and have to use my card, I can no longer top up £5 and know that I can survive the day, without topping up again, I have to instead top up £10. I may as well by an all-day, any-time travelcard for £11. So, the cost, on my OysterCard, for a return, off-peak, is £5.40, which is almost an hours wage for me. Pretty ridiculous when in Brussels it costs €4 for a anytime travelcard. In New York City, where they don’t have day travelcards, you can buy a weekly travelcard for $29, in the UK that would cost me £43.60 (Zones 1-4). I believe that we should adopt a flat rate pricing plan, abolishing the main zones between 1-4. Or, Boris could just reverse all the previous price increases so that they actually rise with inflation. As a Londoner, I guess sometimes we just have to accept these increases, for the benefit of our system continuing to be at the forefront of other transport systems, across the world. For a full list of new ticket fares, click here.

In 2001, the Living Wage Foundation was established, aiming to raise wages, so that they were brought in line with the cost of living. According to the Living Wage Foundation website the current living wage in London/UK is £8.55/7.45 and the current minimum wage is £6.19. Yet another fact that shows a gap in the maths that the Government provides us with. I know countless people, living in London not even on the UK wage, let alone the London wage. The system really does need a shake up, surely if people were paid more people would spend more, which is what the country needs if they want businesses to be successful, resulting in the economy improving. This year really will be a test for Government, as they reach just over halfway in their current term in Parliament. Returning to the reference at the beginning, in regards to Newson’s work we can really ask ourselves this question – “Do you become cynical and bitter at the cost of living, or do you not?”. This was said, by Newson, in an interview featured on Article19We are still in an era of austerity, we may even be headed for a triple-dip recession and all we can really do is trust in the Government to sort this all out. Making sure we do not become bitter about the issues in front of us, but instead enjoying the positives that are put in front of us. If we don’t I guess we can turn to revolution and replicate what many of us are currently escaping to, the phenomena currently sweeping the nation, winning 3 awards last night at the Golden Globes, the new Les Miserables film (which I thought was fantastic).

So I guess in times where money is causing us stress, a little indulgence in arts and culture can’t go amiss. Afterall, the West End is still one of the only sectors, in the British market, showing a profit!

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