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MNHQ here: are you a JAM ("Just About Managing")?

(229 Posts)
FinnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Nov-16 11:35:42


With the Chancellor's Autumn Statement coming up next Wednesday (23 November), rumours swirl that it will include measures targeted at a group the government has been calling "JAMs", or those "just about managing." There's some suggestion that this will include action on things like childcare subsidies, the cost of holiday flights and fuel duty. (For more, here's the Mirror, the Telegraph and the FT.)

We know from previous conversations that many MNers are having to work hard to make ends meet, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on whether you think you fall into this category, what action you'd like the government to take, and whether any of the proposed measures (though we don't have any more details we're afraid!) would make a difference to your lives.


TheOtherMissRabbit Thu 17-Nov-16 11:59:56

For my family, the biggest help would be in employment rights. Over the past ten years, there has been so much of a drift towards casualisation in so many sectors: so many permanent jobs have become temporary, so many 3 year long temporary contracts have become 6 month contracts, so many organisations are relying on zero-hours contracts, so many employers are pushing those previously accepted as employees into registration as self-employed contractors. And yet, people in non-permanent jobs still, still, still have very, very few actual employment rights. And because it's women who take maternity leave, and mostly women who take career breaks for family reasons, and mostly women who have to stay home for childcare emergencies and sick kids, it's women who are getting shafted.

So, please
1. Clamp down on organisations using casual contracts or self-employments to avoid giving workers what would otherwise be their employment rights.
2. Extend basic employment rights to casual and self-employed workers

TheOtherMissRabbit Thu 17-Nov-16 12:04:29

And PS, making a priority of regulating the cost of air travel during school holidays: it is NOT A PRIORITY for any JAM I know. My kids (7 and 6) have flown once in their lives, because whenever in the year you go, holidays are expensive, and always cost way more than just the airfares.

PoldarksBreeches Thu 17-Nov-16 12:17:38

I'm a lone parent, one child, zero financial support from his father (doesn't live in the UK, no way to get it)
I earn £28k and work 33 hours per week so just over the threshold to claim tax credits.
I have to let out my spare room and also work 7 shifts a month doing on call phone support which nets me another £100.
For me, cheaper flights are useless as we don't have foreign holidays. I don't have any savings because my rent is 50% of my take home pay.
Lower fuel costs would be a small help, but wouldn't save me more than £25 a month.
Higher earning thresholds before paying tax and national insurance would be beneficial. Let me keep a bit more of the money I earn.
My pension contributions feel horribly high too, £135 a month.
The biggest horror is housing costs. I know there is no political will to regulate private rental but this would make the most difference to so many people. Ban letting agents from charging tenants and push all the costs onto landlords.
Build housing. Just build. We need them. We need houses more than we need brownfield sites.

SaagMasala Thu 17-Nov-16 12:29:31

I'm somewhat atypical because I'm older and my kids have long since flown the nest.

Speaking for myself, I am not working, and I fall into the category of 1950's born WASPI women who are having to wait for our pensions. Please note I do not support WASPI's aim of rolling back to the 1995 position.
I have zero chance of getting a job due to my age, a poor employment record and mental health problems. I am not in receipt of any benefits because quite frankly I cannot be arsed to jump through hoops to get £70 a week. I am living off my rapidly dwindling savings that I hoped would provide a safety net for house repairs in the future. I feel my plight, which I know is shared by many others in my age group, is being ignored by this government.
It is rumoured that the Triple Lock on pension increases will be scrapped.
I would support this if the savings are used to provide some transitional relief for women in my age group.

A decrease in fuel duty would not make a great deal of difference to me, though it may help slow down rises in the CPI.

Unfortunately, whenever concessions are made to one group, others have to suffer.

PoldarksBreeches Thu 17-Nov-16 12:34:38

In case you were wondering, I can't downsize to a cheaper house without a spare room, I've lived in my house for years and the rent is lower than market rates, the most I could save by downsizing would be £75 a month and considering it would have cost me £560 in letting fees (actual quote from a letting agent recently) that saving would be swallowed up very quickly

JellyBelli Thu 17-Nov-16 13:55:35

We are below JAM, we are a treadmill family.
I second the point about the loss of employment rights. DDIL has just been made redundant and offered her old job back as a part timer. They said they would try to offer her 2 part time shifts a week but couldnt guarantee it.
She lost all her employment rights along with her old contract.
Also, some of the changes in benefit and Tax Credit regulations have hit working families, as some family members are disabled and claim benefits.
The system wont let people who claim Tax Credits apply for jobs that are as and when required. But thats the contract that employers prefer to offer, and it weeds dingle parents and disabled poeple out of the employee profile.
Years ago, Tax Credits were claimed every 26 weeks, and were based on an average of 5 weeks hours and wages. People need that system.

Employers need to offer every new employee a fixed hours, fixed salary contract. Then people who dont need tax credits can volunteer to do as and when required.

Babyroobs Thu 17-Nov-16 14:01:43

I'm not sure how families that are JAM are going to benefit from lower air fares?? if you are JAM surely you are not going to be considering foreign holidays ?

Bobochic Thu 17-Nov-16 14:06:30

One of the reasons people JAM is because their financial position is so insecure that they cannot make any plans. Economic security, not cheaper flights, are what JAMs need.

TheFlounder Thu 17-Nov-16 14:12:55

Childcare fees, I'm currently waiting until my DS is 3 (funded hours) for me to go back to work. DP works but living on one income is tight, if I went back to work I'd break even after childcare. I'm a nursery nurse so I'd be looking after multiple children to pay for my one child to be looked after. It just wouldn't make sense. The 3 year gap on my CV is going to make it hard to get back in to work.

Pinkangel23 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:12:57

For us: employment rights and increases to NMW. No further cuts to tax credits and child benefits/increased help with childcare costs. I would like to change jobs and work a bit more hours but I can't due to childcare restrictions.

expatinscotland Thu 17-Nov-16 14:18:14

Everyone who says fuel duty doesn't affect them needs to remember that their food and goods are delivered by hauliers and other modes of transport that require the use of fuel. When the cost of fuel goes up, that cost is passed on to the consumer.

Hufflepuffin Thu 17-Nov-16 14:19:16

"For my family, the biggest help would be in employment rights." – Agreed, although me working freelance has been helpful to my family, I still resent the fact that we are sleepwalking into undoing all the employment rights that we've worked so hard for since the industrial revolution! It's back to piecework in people's homes, with workers bearing ALL the risk. My dad died and I had to keep working or lose my job.

Housing is huge, government needs to STOP using rising house prices to placate people and win votes. They need to take action against foreign investment housing bubbles. We've been able to buy thanks to inheritance (see above point), but we wouldn't have been able to buy in our area without.

I'd like to see the government going more to support stay at home parents. I don't know what I want that to look like, but the government seems to think that throwing more free childcare at families is the best thing for everyone, but it's not in all circumstances – they could also spend that money better on subsidising childcare solutions for shift workers... again, I don't know what that would look like but it's a huge problem for families where both parents work shifts and seeing how many people meet at work, I think that would be really helpful. (Be good for freelancers too)

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Thu 17-Nov-16 14:19:45

I don't know if we're JAM or Treadmill, but the BEST thing would be to regulate the bloody housing market - rentals in particular. Can't get a mortgage and live in constant fear of LL putting up rent to whatever they feel like and giving us notice if we can't afford it.

Holiday Flights? Are you taking the piss???? Going abroad is not bottom of list, it doesn't even make it on to the list!

frikadela01 Thu 17-Nov-16 15:03:26

Me and dp both work shift work within the nhs. Because if this when I return to work we will have to pay for full time childcare that wobt cover all of our shifts and will eat up the majority of dps wage (I'm main breadwinner). I would support help with childcare and help with a parent saying home for a year or two. Dp would live to stay home however he would struggle to re-enter the nhs since he's not very good with interviews and would obviously miss out in the pension. I don't know what the answer is though.

TipTopTriceratops Thu 17-Nov-16 15:24:06

Yes to housing rental regulation. Another thing there is that people who lose their jobs are increasingly forced to become self employed, and there are an increasing number of landlords who won't accept self employed, whilst they were more open minded to it some years ago. Letting agents in some areas seem to want people who are full time permanent employees or nothing. (Even someone I know who is retired and has enough to live on was told this!)
Sometimes rejecting the self employed is to do with insurance, but a) the agencies and landlords aren't making enough distinction between "clerical only" which is generally same risk as an employee working away from home, and people who have customers traipsing in and out of the house or who store valuable machinery, b) something needs to be done about the insurance end here to adapt to the way the economy and work patterns are shifting.

Not enough is done to incentivise provision of home based work that can be done as and when able by people with caring responsibilities or fluctuating health conditions, at the same time as it's increasingly hard for these groups to get benefits. More zero hours contracts for clerical and phone based work could be shifted in this direction.

Holiday flights? Quite aside from the fact it's a farce WRT environmental policy to be encouraging flights, a better use of money for transport to help struggling workers would be improving public transport in rural areas, and outlying housing estates with poor connections to areas where there are more jobs.

And this country has always been terrible with childcare support compared with most of Europe.

Employment law - probably impossible, but it should be like being able to call the police about a crime, instead it depends on people having the guts and money to bring cases, and risking damage to their future prospects.

Babyroobs Thu 17-Nov-16 15:26:37

Frikadela- I work shifts in the Nhs but am fortunate to currently have managers who help us to work shifts around our partners work by for example giving a set day for working or a set day off or helping juggle nightshifts opposite to partners nightshifts etc so that people aren't paying a fortune for childcare. However we now have a new manager whom I fear is not going to be so accomodating and everyone is fretting !!

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Thu 17-Nov-16 15:35:25

Cheaper holidays would make fuck all difference to us there is no money for holidays cheap or otherwise.

We can't get a mortgage and can't get a council house because we both work so are stuck in private rental. We are lucky to have good landlords but we pay an extortionate amount of rent with no security as they could up the rent or sell at any time. Cap rents on private rentals that would help.

Losgunna Thu 17-Nov-16 15:38:38

Help with childcare costs would the most helpful thing for us. We're living on dp's salary atm because even though DS is now getting his funded hours, I can't get to fit those hours and childcare costs would wipe out all of my earnings.

Wrt flights, 100% agree with pp that that is a total pisstake. Cheaper fights are not what we need. Better support with childcare and greater employment rights is what we need (though I can't honestly see that happening under the current government)

BarbaraofSeville Thu 17-Nov-16 15:42:48

We are fortunate that we have enough to live on but that's mainly because we were lucky enough to buy a property when they cost much less, but what we struggle with is that in DPs industry (construction) there is absolutely no job security and all work is either false self employment or via umbrella companies and agencies who take a large percentage of his wages and force him into various tax avoidance scams which he does not want to be part of.

All he wants to do is an honest day's work for an honest day's pay with some security, but this seems impossible the way things are run at the moment. If you don't play the game, you won't get any work because of kickbacks between the agencies and umbrella companies. We're fortunate that I have a secure permanent job, but it must be a nightmare for anyone working in those conditions who is the main family breadwinner and they won't know how long they have work for and don't have the paperwork for mortgages etc.

The government keep saying they want to crack down on tax avoidance, they need to start looking properly at the construction industry and anywhere else where middlemen pretend that everyone is on minimum wage plus expenses minus a load stolen from the workers by the middlemen. There are armies of 'temporary' workers who are being taken advantage of like this.

BlueFolly Thu 17-Nov-16 16:02:49

Is it just me or does 'cheaper flights' sound really patronising? I can't quite articulate why - it's not cause people can't afford holidays either.

BeckerLleytonNever Thu 17-Nov-16 16:09:47

they'll prob target the carers and disabled yet again first of all.

then the genuine unemployed (the ones that are NOT lazy workshy benefit cheats).

then the housing benefit (Ive ended up paying more than the HB per week, when Im --sorry for this word--entitled to full HB (Don't get me started).

disability expenses/fule/carroad tax,......

oh the CUNTservatories, same book, different cover.

elizally Thu 17-Nov-16 16:12:16

"Cheaper flights" sounds patronising because it implies that people will forget about all the substantive stuff that makes their lives harder if the govt make it easier for them to have a week of sun every so often.

Like you can just buy people off.

minipie Thu 17-Nov-16 16:16:31

BlueFolly I think it's because (1) it's "let them eat cake" - it demonstrates there is absolutely no understanding of what life is really like for JAMs and (2) there's an element of "bread and circuses" about it - "never mind if your job and lease are at risk and you've no hope of improving your living standard, as long as you can get a cheap week in malaga... "

OddBoots Thu 17-Nov-16 16:23:33

Unless they target housing costs then reducing the cost of luxuries such as international travel won't make a difference - most of those just about managing have already given up holidays.

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