It appears to be time for the annual moan from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation about the cost of living in the UK:
Families need to earn £40,000 a year to have decent standard of living amid rising cost of childcare, transport and energy, a study has revealed.
Figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that each parent in a working couple with two children needs to earn £20,000 in order to fund a reasonable lifestyle, up from £13,900 in 2008.
A single person needs to earn £18,400, an increase from £13,400 a decade ago.
We've been making regular fun of this regular calculation for well over a decade now. These numbers are pre-tax and they're calculated on the basis of Adam Smith's linen shirt. This is what people think that people ought to be able to do in a rich country like today's Britain. The bit they never do quite get right is, well, what do we do about it?
That household requiring £40,000 a year - only 30% or so of households do earn more than that. No, they don't have enough money that we can take the excess, redistribute it to the other 70% and bring them up to said income standard. Redistribution isn't a solution to this identified problem.
Which leaves, well, what is? Childcare, we can reduce the cost of that by relaxing the regulation around it which makes it so expensive. But try insisting upon that. Housing can be made cheaper by again relaxing the regulation around housebuilding but try suggesting that.
Which really only leaves two things. If this is the righteous amount that people should have for the good life then we must stop taxing people who earn less than this amount. Put the personal allowance (for both types of NI and income tax) up to £18,400 and we're there. We do have the economic emancipation of women so couples are taxed separately and we'd pretty much deal with that £40k number as well.
Yes, this would mean rather less government all round but then we've not got a problem with that.
The only other thing we could note here is that the country just isn't rich enough - redistribution won't work, recall - to support some 70% of the population in the manner we feel they should be supported. Excellent, that means the country needs to be much richer to achieve this goal. So, hell for leather on that economic growth front then and damn the torpedoes.
Less government, much lower taxation and more economic growth. You know, we're warming to this JRF analysis.