Squeeze of middle classes
In reply to Mr Bernard Darbyshire (letters September 25), we now have an economy that is enriching too few and failing too many. As those at the top grab an ever larger slice of the spoils of growth, the rest of the UK is falling further and further behind.
And it’s not just those at the lower-end of the income scale who are having a tough time – middle class families are not immune either from the tightest squeeze on living standards in a century, falling real wages and rising levels of personal debt.
They’ve watched their children come out of university with good degrees behind them – usually coupled with huge amounts of student debt – but unable to secure graduate level jobs, reduced to working as baristas when really they’d like to be training to be barristers.
More graduates may now be in work but that’s because many are taking jobs well below their qualification level. Low-paid jobs are no longer just a stop gap between university and a career. Graduates now find themselves stuck in the ranks of the working poor, with few prospects, no job security and an uncertain future ahead.
Trapped in low-paying, insecure jobs, often on zero-hours contracts, many of these youngsters have no option but to move back in with mum and dad, unable to afford increasingly expensive rental accommodation, let alone save enough for a deposit so they can one day buy their own home.
Wealth isn’t trickling down to the middle classes – it’s trickling up to the super rich. Middle class children are facing downward mobility en masse and many will almost certainly end up worse off than their parents.
People employed in jobs traditionally seen as middle class increasingly find themselves being treated in ways that used to be reserved for those in blue collar jobs.
Everyone is now working harder but for less, casualisation and bogus self-employment are on the increase, and unpaid overtime has become a fact of life almost everywhere – all of which has led to a lack of autonomy at work and loss of social status for almost everyone.
The no-frills airline pilot cadets on zero-hours contracts, the move away from permanent jobs to short-term contracts across television, theatre and the media, health professionals – our nurses, radiographers and midwives – facing further cuts in real pay as the government ignores the recommendations of their own independent pay review body. This is the reality for the UK’s squeezed middle.
Instead of undermining the UK’s employment rights – that incidentally already rank as some of the weakest in the developed world – we should be cracking down on zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and agency work abuses.
Now is the time to ditch the failings of winner takes all capitalism. Only then will we be able to rebuild our middle classes and deliver opportunity for all.
If the minimum wage is so important to Mr Darbyshire, can he keep his living standards with an equivalent income or is he cocooned in his own little world?
Derek Barton Preston and South Ribble Trades Council
Time to close tax loopholes
A family-owned company pays its four major directors (fathers and sons) the minimum wage. They then each take an annual £60,000 net dividend. That makes their gross ‘pay’ around £75,000 per annum.
They pay 10 per cent tax on their dividend (£6,000) and no income tax, meaning their tax liability for the year is about £7,500. An (extremely well-paid) company employee, meanwhile, who is earning £75,000 per year, will pay around £23,000 in income tax and national insurance every year.
Until we get tough on taxing the people at the top of the tree, the income divide between the richest and poorest in our society will just keep getting larger.
Name and address supplied
Call for class of 89 reunion
Dear Pupils from the Our Lady’s High School, Lancaster, class of 1989, if you were born between the dates of September 1972 and August 1973 and attended Our Lady’s Catholic High School – this is a message for you.
I know you won’t believe this, but it is 25 years since we finished our GCSEs. And 25 years since we left the safety net of Mr Bryant, Mr and Mrs Martin and Mr Brisco at OLHS.
So with this in mind, and before it reaches 30 years since we left school, we would like to arrange a reunion.
This has been brought about by OLCC celebrating their Golden Jubilee. Why not come along and catch up with old faces?
Do you remember the leaving song of Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds being played in the Youth Club?
There is more information available on a Facebook group called Class Of 89 Reunion. Our Lady’s High School. The plan is for a get together on Saturday, November 1. Either join the
Facebook page or email
OLHSclassof89@hotmail.com for more details.
Colm Rowley, Michael Dilworth, Natalie McMullan, via email
Patients need a human touch
I recently had the misfortune to be lying on a trolley after being admitted to A&E at the Royal Preston Hospital.
A nurse got hold of my arm to do my blood pressure, all the while talking to another member of staff, about what I cannot remember. Upon pointing out to her that I was a human being and not a slab of meat, she told me she was multi-tasking.
As a nurse myself, I would much prefer a nurse who single-tasks, concentrating on what they are doing and communicating with the patient.
I think by trying to multi-task, it makes them feel more important and that what they are doing is beneath them.
My brother, concerned about my condition, phoned only to be told I was being abusive. Critical yes, abusive, no. If nurses can’t take criticism and mistake criticism for abuse, there is no hope for them to improve as nurses and start treating patients as human beings, and not just another body in a long line of bodies.
There is much talk of empathy and holistic care. But talk is cheap, action priceless. Empathy was sadly lacking during my experience.
Phoebus Farb, Ashton