Many would have you believe that post-Blair Britain is a fabulous place. Many people have more money than they know what to do with and everything is hunky dory. Only, this is not necessarily true for 100% of the population, at least not according to the story which one of my students told me after a recent visit to London.
I was a little surprised to learn from him that there is an apparently sizeable group of people who are really struggling to make ends meet, or at least that was what he was told by a Londoner he met. Soaring property prices and low salary levels seem are probably the culprit, I suspect.
I decided to check this out, so I hunted around a UK job search website and looked at a couple of estate agents sites.
With regard to jobs, I discovered from taking a look at the some admin jobs advertised in Bristol, a moderately wealthy southern UK city, that salaries of around £13,000 and £14,000 are still quite commonplace. This means that a couple earning around £28,000 would just about be able to afford a mortgage on a one bed property costing £98,000 – which is just about the lowest price you will find on the market in that area.
Such low salary levels mean that what my Italian friend told me is quite possibly true – there are plenty of people who are struggling to make ends meet. How many, I don’t know, but probably more than I would expect.
Did Blair benefit everyone in the UK? Good question. Answers on a postcard, or comment please.
A small update: This article in on the Guardian website seems to indicate that even graduates are finding living in the UK something of a struggle.