“May I have a coffee, please”
“Certainly, that will be 21 minutes”
My coffee of choice is a latte, not skinny, no syrups just a straightforward latte. In Costa, a medium size latte will cost £2.55 and is typical of the price of a coffee in many cafe’s up and down the country, be they global chains or single outlets. it’s a price that I have been fortunate enough not to take much notice of over the years. Then I retired and prior to turning my full attention to writing, I decided to take a part time job to keep me occupied and pay my bills, it was there that I experienced the “minimum wage.” Currently £7.20 an hour for the over 25’s.
It was also there that the cold reality of the link between how long I worked and the cost of things really hit home. The bottom line was that I needed to work 21 minutes to buy a cup of coffee. Several friends of mine buy a take away coffee every day on the way to work. That’s £12.75 per week. A good percentage of those same people buy a £3 meal deal for their lunch. That’s another £15 per week.
So… One coffee and a meal deal is £5.55 a day. That’s £27.75 a week. That’s £1332 a year! (I used 48 instead of 52 to take account of a few weeks holiday!) To go back to my minimum wage calculation that equates to having to work 11,100 minutes or 185 hours. About a working month.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the average weekly wage in the UK is £539 per week. As someone living in the West Country, I have huge issues with this figure as I know few people earning close to this in the area I live. However, for my current purposes, I will run with it as even on that figure £27.75 still represents over 5% of the average weekly wage. Even people lucky enough to be on average earnings work over two weeks just to buy lunch.
Throughout my career I felt it was not my job to question the financial decisions people made. Rather it was my job to clarify a situation and set out realistic options to solving problems. If someone wants to spend over £600 a year on take away coffee then they go with my blessing. But I wonder how many that are spending that much have looked at the cost a bit more closely. I wish I had long before I “retired”