We often think of the cost of living crisis as just a low pay problem but even people with steady jobs are struggling to make ends meet.
I am a classic example of the squeezed middle. I earn £34,000 working as an environmental regulator in Cornwall which on the face of it sounds like a reasonable salary.
However, a succession of pay freezes and below-inflation rises have left me far worse than I was in 2008. My partner is a full time mum at the moment, and her only income is child benefit.
For the last few years we just about been able to cover basic living costs – mortgage payments, bills and groceries – but very little else. I no longer have any spare money to spend on new clothes, days out, home appliances or even simple work on the house.
The last time we had a week away (self-catering in the UK) was three years ago, the last time we went abroad for a week was 2007. Holidays are effectively now out of the question.
This isn’t how I wanted to be living in my 40s. I know I’m in a far better position than lots of others, but it still doesn’t feel good.
When we do have to spend money on non-routine items, this it can only be done by going further into debt and I now have a string of low-interest rate credit cards with various balances on them. It is going to take years to clear these.
My partner is keen to get back to work when my son starts school but this won’t be easy as there are few jobs well-paid in rural Cornwall that she can apply for and we would almost certainly need to get another car.
Right now I feel things are at a tipping point for me and my family and I can’t imagine what it must be like for people in low-paid jobs.
I’m earning as much money as I can, have cut back on outgoings still can’t make my take-home pay last the month. This is an unsustainable position for me and millions of others.
People deserve to be able to live with dignity but for this to happen we need fair pay. That’s why I’m getting on a TUC coach in the early hours of Saturday to travel to London this weekend. It is about time that ordinary people shared in the recovery.