Hanging on: the stresses and strains of Britain’s ‘just managing’ families

Published on Incomes and Inequality

New governments have no record on which to be judged, meaning that a great deal of emphasis is placed on what they say. Our new Prime Minister has made it clear that her government will focus its attention on working families with relatively low earnings – those who are ‘just managing’. That approach has been broadly welcomed, speaking to the air of economic frustration that has developed across much of the country in recent years. But identifying the policy interventions that can support this group and elevate them into a more comfortable position requires a deep understanding of just who constitutes the ‘just managing’ and the barriers to improved living standards they face.

By way of informing this agenda, this note provides an overview of the ‘low to middle income’ group. Members of this group are the focus of the Resolution Foundation’s work and are characterised by the extent to which, despite being in work and largely outside the system of means-tested benefits, they live on the edge, vulnerable to even modest changes in circumstances. In this sense, they can stake a strong claim for sitting squarely within the ‘just managing’ group.