Emma Does Politics

There is such a thing as society. It's called politics.

A Word of Warning About a Word of Warning

In today’s Daily Telegraph, Robert Watts has kindly noted that “middle-class professionals typically pay more than £200,000 towards Britain’s welfare bill during their working lives”. This shocking figure is accompanied by a helpful calculator so you can enter your salary and see just how much you can expect to pay over your working life, or over the current financial year if that is your wont instead.

He’s ever such a useful tool, our Robert Watts is. Read all about him.

His statistics are, at best, dishonest reporting designed to elicit an emotional response. I consider myself middle class. The poorer end of middle class to be sure, but middle class. My mum did too, before she retired (retirees generally fall out of Britain’s class structure). My dad had a military rank sufficient to grant him the respect of a middle class person. Rightly or wrongly, we thought of ourselves as middle-class. But to pay that typical “middle-class” lifetime tax bill of over £200,000, you’d have to be earning £50,000 per year, according to the Telegraph’s calculator. Even converted to today’s figures and accounting for inflation, I’m not sure that all three incomes combined would have hit £50,000 per year (army officers are notoriously underpaid for what they do; town hall workers and charity workers don’t fare an awful lot better).

Perhaps my family is atypical for a middle-class person? Just to be sure, Robert Watts’ typical middle-class professional earns £50,000 per year. According to the current year’s statistics available on Wikipedia, Robert Watts’ typical middle-class earner is in the top 10% of the population by income.

I don’t know about you, but I consider the middle to be around the 50% mark — £21,300 per year according to Wikipedia’s numbers cited above. A typical middle-class earner actually pays closer to £56,000 over a full working lifetime.

As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Always check your sources.

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