Family has a job to make ends meet every month

Emma Payne, 37, described her family’s finances as “managing” — although she would like one day to be debt-free and to start saving towards a pension.

She lives with her husband, Lee, 42, and their three children, Holly, 11, Riley, 7, and Jaxon, 3, left, in a semi-detached house in Stoke-on-Trent that has another ten years on the mortgage. The family live off Mr Payne’s salary from his job as a warehouse supervisor for a haulage company. Mrs Payne was made redundant from a part-time job.

The couple receive child tax credits but their income is at the lower end of the “just managing” band of £18,000 to £24,000.

This demographic struggles to make ends meet but receives little in state support. The government is being urged to help them.

Mrs Payne has nothing in her savings account, although her husband has a workplace pension, and they have taken out a few short-term loans for everyday items that they are paying off.

“We worry about anything happening, for example if the boiler goes or the car breaks down,” she said. “We don’t really save anything because we are mainly paying out the mortgage and bills.

“Hopefully in the next couple of years when other bits of debt are paid off, and I hope to work full time when my youngest child is older, we can start putting money away. When the mortgage is paid off I will have 10 to 15 years to save for retirement.”

Mrs Payne highlighted the soaring cost of childcare as the area she would like to see addressed by the chancellor next week.

“It is a catch-22 situation,” she said. “You go out to work because you don’t want to rely on handouts but then you can’t afford to pay for childcare. For parents who do want to work there should be free or reduced childcare.”

Voter brands
Hard-working families

This phrase has been used extensively by parties on both sides of the political divide in the UK, the US and Australia since the 1990s. The vague phrasing means most voters think it applies to them.

Quiet bat people
In a 2012 scene from Armando Iannucci’s satire The Thick of It the leader of the opposition and her team mull how to describe the group they want to appeal to: “the sort of person who finds an umbrella on the bus and goes all the way to the depot to give it back”. They settle on the demographic descriptor “quiet bat people”.