On the Today programme this morning an incredulous John Humprhys could not believe Ed Miliband’s suggestion that the “squeezed middle” consisted of people earning a bit above or a bit below £26,000.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies might have told Humprhys that this was indeed the band in the middle of British society, and that only the richest 15 per cent or so of people pay the 40 percent tax rate. When I last spoke to the IFS, it told me that it makes as much sense to look household income as individual salaries. By this measure, families bringing in £30-£50,000 a year make up the broad middle class, which fills so much of Britain. Exactly the people Miliband was talking about, in other words.
The financial crisis is hammering them. Their services are being cut – and they cannot afford to go private. Their taxes are about to go up, their benefits are about to be withdrawn and ministers are about to tell their children they must take on vast debts if they want to go to university.
Humphrys did not seem to know it.