Those are the people Nick Clegg is talking about when he uses the phrase "Alarm Clock Britain", those people who live pretty much month to month, or week to week. Those people who never really get the chance to save for the future because the basic needs of the present use up all their income. I get the principle, but I hate the label. It's not quite as patronising and judgemental as its predecessor "hard working families", which used to get on my nerves, but I really don't like it. You shouldn't really criticise when you don't have an alternative, as I've been saying to the Labour Party all the time, but coming up with snazzy terms is not my strong point. Low paid households doesn't really have a snappy ring to it although it's probably more accurate.
I loved what Jennie said about Alarm Clock Britain:
And then he resurrected the spectre of Alarm Clock Britain. I don't know who keeps telling him that it's a good idea to remind people of the thing they hate, the thing that makes them get out of bed and go to work, the bastard alarm clock, in every sodding speech, but I don't know one single person who really resonates with the phrase.Although I disagreed with her next bit about those people being the squeezed middle - I take it to mean the £15-£25000 income range rather than £40k and above.
However, scrapping about words is one thing, but I shouldn't let it distract me from the fact that today's budget will help those people, who really need it at the moment, to cope with rising food and fuel prices. The tax threshold is being raised again, to £8015. That's an increase of some £1630 over the first two years of the Parliament, good progress towards the £10,000 in the Coalition Agreement.
The price of fuel doesn't just affect those who have cars - it affects all of us who ever eat, or wear clothes or buy anything. While I wince at the roughly £42 it takes to fill my Micra, that must be multiplied in the accounts department of every business when they realise how much it costs to get in their raw materials and then transport their products for sale. The 1p cut in duty, and not having to worry about any more increases for at least a year, will make a difference and the above inflation fuel increases are stopped until 2015 - all of this paid for by a tax on the extra profits the oil companies are making. I just hope that the oil companies don't try to pass that tax rise on to us because that would defeat the object.
Those are the budget measures which are there to help out people with living costs. There are others which are aimed at boosting jobs, which I'll write about later. In the meantime, I'll leave you with another e-mail from Nick Clegg to chew over: