Resolution Foundation: the case study

They really should have thought a little more about this:

Clair Beattie, who lives in Nottingham and works part-time as a hairdresser, looks back to her parents\’ generation and wishes things could be like that now.

Her father had a good profession: he was a builder who brought home a decent wage. Her father-in-law, working in the same trade, owned his own company. His prosperity meant his family owned their own house and went away every year on holiday.


By contrast, Clair and her husband Dan struggle. They don\’t complain too much, largely because they have two lovely daughters – one four and the other 17 – as well as an 18-year-old son who has left the family home. But life is tough. Dan\’s expertise is in air conditioning and because there are few jobs in that field in Nottingham he works 50 to 60 hours in London every week.

So we\’re going to compare, over the generations, the living standards of the capitalist exploiting the workers and the worker being exploited are we?

Very good matching of your comparison set there, eh?


10 thoughts on “Resolution Foundation: the case study”

  1. A part-time hairdresser and a air-conditioning technician are middle class? Okay, if they insist …

    Personally, I think we really have two classes, working and non-working. Non-working can be split in to “in education”, poor, “stinking rich” and retired (who may be of any income level) and working in to “need to” and “do so because they want to”.

  2. To be fair to the article, it doesn’t actually describe what airconman’s employment terms are. The likelihood, in that game, he’s self employed like most of the other trades I know. If so, it’s quite likely he’s paying a semi-skilled ‘mate’ because most aircon work is two handed. In a sense, he may be no different from his father (presumably). Just hasn’t managed to make the jump to employing other airconmen to do the work.
    The travelling to the Smoke for 60-70 hours a week? If he’s on-site those hours, even as an employee, on the sort of money airconmen earn he’d be pulling north of a grand a week gross. Maybe he should think about relocating.

    Dog bites man is hardly news. Or maybe Graun readers don’t know how the world works.

  3. He does sound self-employed, and if so he’s on to a loser. The air con game has about five or six biggish companies that send workmen around the country, subcontracted from the big building firms.

    Sounds to me like he’s inefficient compared to his competition.

  4. The ‘middle class’ has become somewhat elastic, almost an all encompassing body. The Guardian article touches on too many issues and anomalies for a blog response. I would echo previous comment: aircon technician should be doing ok, and if my wife’s hairdresser is anything to go by Clair isn’t doing too badly either. What other sub-group in the middle should we penalize in order to favour this one?

  5. Perhaps Claire and Dan would like to go back to the standard of living that their parents had in other ways too – cars that constantly broke down (and were much more expensive vs wages, and definitely only one per household), no fancy TVs, Sky TV, mobile phones, internet, DVDs. No dishwashers, just a twin tub washing machine, food from the Co-op or independent stores with little choice. No foreign foods, no eating out. No buying new clothes all the time, wearing hand-me-downs from other family members, and jumble sales.

    In fact if they lived in a similar living standard to their parents they too could afford to own their own house and go on holiday once a year to Torquay as well.

  6. “..if my wife’s hairdresser is anything to go by Clair isn’t doing too badly either.”
    Well spotted that man! If the prevalence of pink or powder blue soft tops outside even parade salons is anything to go by, a proper stylist would be grossing close to 20 of the quoted 30 grand family total.
    It occurs, if the suburb of Islamabad on a bad day I passed through couple years back was indeed Nottingham, maybe the story’s the plight of the residual whites in some of your cities.

  7. “They don’t own their own home and half of their joint income of around £30,000 a year goes on rent and council tax.”
    Slight problem with this – you just cannot rent a bungalow in Nottingham for £15k per annum – the most expensive one on the market is £8,340 pa – even adding in council tax that’s well under *one-third* of their £30k joint income. [Cheapest two-bedroom (parents and two girls) is £6300.]

  8. What could be achieved is that if their combined income is only 30K (and like John 77 I doubt their outgoings on rent CAN be that high) is to reduce taxation to the level where, assuming the one earner (probably the part-time hairdresser),earns, say 8K and the other 22K, the former pays no tax and the latter pays tax at about 20% above the 15K personal allowance which should ideally be regionalised. That would of course entail huge reductions in public expenditure, halving it to the levels we had in say, 1997, prior to the government elected in that fateful year, widely considered the worst in recorded British history, more than doubling it for no return. Of course, I doubt such a policy would provided the level of well-renumerated ‘non-jobs’ that have kept the Guardian solvent for the last 15 years, so I doubt you’ll read it there!

  9. Haven’t we repeatedly established that the Graun’s case studies are fictional?

    The chap works ’50-60′ hours a week; the woman works part-time, which must be at least 10 hours or so; total is, say, 65 hours. Familial weekly income of £600? We’re looking at an hourly wage under ten quid an hour. People with ‘expertise’ in anything get far more than that. QED, the chap is either earning more money, or in fact is an unskilled labourer rather than a skilled tradesman like his dad-in-law.

    A quick google throws up a number of vacancies for air-con engineers in Nottingham on 30k a year.

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