You’re not rich if you earn £45,000
A third of high earners have switched to cheaper supermarkets and dipped into savings.
The recession has finally started to bite the budgets of high earners in the UK. The Axa Big Money Index has shown that a third of high earners have switched to cheaper supermarkets and dipped into savings.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: “Diddums. Poor old them, they’ll have to cut back on the £30 bottles of wine and maybe sell Tarquin’s pony.”
But what do we mean when we say ‘high earner’? Well, first, let’s take a look at the average earner - the average gross salary for a full-time employee last year was £26,200, according to the Office for National Statistics.
So, is it as simple as anyone earning more than that counts as a high earner? Or should we say that anyone paying higher or top rate income tax is wealthy?
Many high earners live in London, or other major cities, meaning their mortgages are likely to be considerable.
If someone earns £45,000 a year, then they’re among the top 10% in the country. That must count as a high earner. These workers earn more than twice as much as most nurses, new teachers and police constables.
But can we regard them as being wealthy and out of touch? Can we deride them for struggling financially when so many people are managing on far less?
I don’t think we can. Many high earners live in London, or other major cities, meaning their mortgages are likely to be considerable.
Just like the rest of us, they have been hit by rising fuel and food prices. They’re lined up to lose the child benefit allowance, they won’t benefit from any tax credits.
At the lower end of the high earning scale, there will be plenty of people struggling to make ends meet. And just because they have more than the majority, that doesn’t mean we should dismiss their financial difficulties.
I’m uncomfortable with the anti-wealth sentiment this recession seems to have fuelled.
For me, this story illustrates how easy it is to feel scathing about anyone who earns more than the rest of us.
I’m uncomfortable with the anti-wealth sentiment this recession seems to have fuelled. If we’re honest, many of us enjoy stories about the wealthy struggling and we rarely have sympathy for high-earning parents who can no longer afford the £30k fees for Eton.
But these high earners aren’t necessarily rich and they aren’t necessarily destructive.
They may be employers, they are likely to spend more in their local communities and they pay a high amount of tax. Sometimes I wonder if we should celebrate their contribution instead of deriding them for having an easier life than the rest of us.
- Felicity Hannah is a personal finance journalist living in the north of England.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE THE WEALTHY RICH AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE, OR HAVE THEY EARNED IT?
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Which of these financial mistakes have you made most often?
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- Accidentally giving wrong information on a credit application
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- Taking on too much credit that you’ve then found hard to manage
- Forgetting to sever financial links with a previous partner
- Not having enough of a credit record