The Times today reports on how George Osborne is under pressure to consider a raft of different proposals in his Budget to help squeezed "middle earners", with Tories up in arms about the impact that taxes are having on those who earn more than £42,000. One unnamed backbencher tells the Times: “This shows they are hitting the middle.”
Where is 'the middle'? Is it really in the region of £40,000?
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average* Briton earns just £517 a week, equivalent to £26,884 a year, significantly less than the people on £42,000-plus that Tory MPs are rushing to defend.
One of the tax changes they want Osborne to do, raising the 40p tax threshold that they claim has been "hitting the middle", has been shown by research to actually benefit the richest fifth.
Two ex-Tory chancellors have even teamed up to urge Osborne to raise the 40p tax allowance, with Lord Lawson insisting that it is hitting "middling professionals" rather than the rich.
However, Lord Lawson glossed over the fact that just one in seven taxpayers (15%) actually earn enough to pay the 40p rate.
In his Budget today, will Osborne do anything about the 85% of Britons who are not paying the 40% rate?
And will journalists and pundits stop referring to people earning around £15,000 above the median annual wage as "middle earners?
*Average is the median, exactly half way between the bottom and top earner. Literally a middle earner.