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Page last updated at 06:13 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 07:13 UK
Luxury or necessity?

Supermarket shopping
What's the bare minimum?
What is an acceptable standard of living - and what do you need to earn to enjoy it?

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a single adult needs to earn 13,000 before tax to have the amount of spending power to participate properly in modern society.

A couple with two children should have 27,000. A pensioner couple need 201 a week after taxes and housing costs are taken into account.

The debate is about having enough to participate everyday life, not staying above the poverty line. After all, as one of the participants noted: "Food and shelter keeps you alive, it doesn't make you live."

Food and shelter keeps you alive, it doesn't make you live

In all, 39 groups from different kinds of household (such as families with children, pensioners and single people) looked at everything that a household would need. And they made judgements on what was essential to live in Britain in the 21st Century.

But what is a luxury and what a necessity?

A mobile phone was judged a cost-effective way of keeping in touch - it was regarded as a necessity. A car was regarded as a luxury for every group which came under the panels' scrutiny.

A single parent should have the ability to buy wine every week. Writing paper and envelopes were on the list for the pensioner couple - and a bird feeder was regarded as an essential for a single pensioner. It was thought reasonable that a couple with two children would spend some money from their budget on babysitting and 32 a week on social activities.

What do you think? What would be your necessity - but another person's luxury? Read some of the comments we have received and let us know using the form below.

Pretty much the necessities any needs apart from shelter, food and water. All else is non-essential, of which I am as guilty as anyone else - blackberry, Laptop, Broadband, TV, DVD etc.
Andrew Symington, Exeter, UK

Some may think it a luxury but my necessity to participate properly in modern society is the knowledge that when I work an hour, my time and efforts are considered equal to everyone else's and are equally rewarded. Ahh, to dream...
tim pitt, Wiltshire, England

I regard a car as a necessity for myself. I use it mostly to travel to work. I am a Home Tutor. I have several heavy bags to carry (containing textbooks of various kinds, stationery, etc.). I also have a back problem and a balance problem. The balance problem makes it difficult for me to ride a bicycle safely - even if the bicycle could support the bags.
Angela Benson, London, U.K.

Listening to reports about the JRF research I generally see it as fairly sensible, however I find it somewhat odd that people regard a DVD player as a luxury and yet don't regard a car as an esential. Try living in rural areas with the usual level of abysmal public transport (if any at all) impossible to get to work, shopping (villages no longer have shops/post offices/pubs/phone boxes) or to get to the doctor/dentist/hospital/library, and social life would fail to exist without your own transport assuming that you can still afford to run it!
Paul Sherwood, Thirsk, UK

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