The Daily Mail reports a shocking survey that reveals that a full THIRD of working families have not enough savings to cover a month of rent or mortgage, if a job is lost. If true, that is extremely worrying both on a human level and on a macro level - if a third of people may stop paying rent or mortgage payments if the job market turns down it does not bear thinking about.
But is it true? The survey was commissioned by Shelter, of that breed of political activist organisations which also does some charitable work. Their numbers do not stand up to much scrutiny: the THIRD of working families actually totals three million rather than a third of households as such (there are about 25 million households in the UK). Three million is still a lot, but it is clearly nonsense to say that three million is a third of households. Their definition of a "working family" must narrow the numbers quite significantly. It probably means "people with young children at home".
Fine. Still a lot of people struggle to make ends meet and we shouldn't belittle that.
The Mail article doesn't give any more detail, but it does give a platform for Shelter to demand more welfare benefits for its favoured groups, with the stark figure that for 48% of "families", housing is the "biggest drain" on their budget.
That people spend a high proportion of their monthly income on the most important priority should hardly be news. What the Mail/Shelter article does not mention is that for around 50% of all households (at least some of which must surely overlap), tax is the biggest single drain on budgets.
Instead of campaigning for more housing benefits - which often just feed through to even higher rents - perhaps Shelter could campaign for more building to be allowed, for lower taxes, for "families" to save more for themselves, and for a generally more dynamic economy?