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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
The "essential" things in life?
Homeless man
Does a lack of "essential" items mean a person is in poverty?
What are life's essentials in Britain in 2004?

A bed, a television, a fridge, a mobile phone?

One way of defining poverty is to find out what people say we all should have, and then to count the number of people who do not have it.

Here on this website is a list of the things people suggest are essentials, together with the percentage of people who agree. You might like to compare your own choices.

BBC Radio 4's More or Less was broadcast on Thursday, 22 July, 1500 BST

On More or Less we examined this whole approach to measuring poverty - an method which has recently come in for some criticism.

We talked to people about what is essential to them, comparing it with what the population says as a whole.

What does it mean if the poor disagree with what the rest of us say is essential, and spend their money on other things instead?

By spending on "inessentials", do they prove they are not really poor?

Cost of debt

The programme also looked at the powerful movement to cancel debt in developing countries, which began as the Jubilee 2000 campaign.

In a few years it achieved a high public profile and now has powerful support.

Many who have campaigned to get third world development into the public consciousness feel it has been a great success.

But has the increased publicity and activism come at a cost - that measurements were made with too blunt an instrument?

Could it be that debt has not been the best way of identifying who is really most needy?

Andrew Dilnot spoke to Anne Pettifor, an intellectual leading light of the Jubilee 2000 campaign.

Producer: Michael Blastland
Editor: Nicola Meyrick

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