Living standards Sitting in the middle 28 February 2011 by James Plunkett James Plunkett Yesterday at the Resolution Foundation we launched a wide-ranging investigation into the pressures now facing low-to-middle earners. The Commission on Living Standards will focus on the long-term economic trends that are changing the reality of life for those on low-to-middle incomes in Britain, writes James Plunkett It will bring together leading thinkers, from major employers to top economists, to look at a wide range of trends, from pay and employment to the cost of living. Its aim is to bring much greater definition to a debate than can prove elusive – think the ‘squeezed middle’ and ‘alarm clock Britain’ – and, ultimately, to sketch out a view of what can be done. That aspect of the Commission’s work – thinking about responses to the problem – won’t just mean making recommendations to government. Employers and third sector organisations will have an important role to play in raising living standards in the decades ahead. But two big parts of the work will speak directly to how the role of government may need to change in the coming years: the question of how we reform the tax-benefit system to ease pressures on low-to-middle earners, and that of how public services can give greater support to families to raise their own living standards.