We are the prime target for politicians struggling to restore the public finances. Is there any escape?by Andy Davis / June 19, 2013 / Leave a comment
“Britain’s middle classes are routinely labelled the “squeezed middle” but that squeeze is far more than simple financial pressure” © Phil Disley
Looking back, I can put my finger on the time when a clutch of appealing illusions I had carried unquestioningly with me throughout my adult life began to fall away. It was late 2009, just two years into the financial and economic debacle that still surrounds us, but long before I or most other people finally realised that what we thought was just another temporary downturn—albeit a bad one—was in fact something totally different. It was game over. An old way of thinking and doing things was finished.
That autumn my wife was pregnant with our first child, the realisation was dawning that we could no longer put off facing up to the steady advance of my mother’s dementia, and a happy and supportive relationship with my employer, which had lasted almost 15 years, suddenly become the exact opposite. By the following spring I had an infant son, a disorientated mother living among strangers behind locked doors and a cheque instead of a career. A lot of things that had been quietly taking care of themselves for years suddenly needed attending to. In the process of getting to grips with them and starting to plan a financial future for three generations of my family, the extent of my previous blissful ignorance became painfully obvious.
Life is a lot easier and less stressful if you like your job and the company you work for. The money turns up every month and the seasons roll round. Colleagues can become good friends over the years and the social life of the office is something you miss when it’s gone. But for all its attractions, I would have to be utterly desperate before I took a salaried job again (which I fully acknowledge puts me among a very fortunate minority). The first big illusion I left behind that spring was that any company would ever really care for me, as opposed to the role I was being paid to carry out. Perpetuating this comforting illusion is a key function of middle management and stupidly I allowed almost 15 years of positive experience to lull me into believing it. This turned out to be a profound mistake and one I won’t make again.