The high-earning middle classes are tightening their belts

Andre Reid was forced to pawn his Mercedes when the economic downturn left him temporarily without the money to pay the fees at his sons private school. Unable to secure a bank loan, the IT consultant, who earns £50,000 a year, took out a £5,000 loan against his £13,000 car, ensuring 13-year- old Lydon was […]

Andre Reid was forced to pawn his Mercedes when the economic downturn left him temporarily without the money to pay the fees at his sons private school.

Unable to secure a bank loan, the IT consultant, who earns £50,000 a year, took out a £5,000 loan against his £13,000 car, ensuring 13-year- old Lydon was able to resume his studies at the start of the school year.

“It was a choice between having the car sitting on the driveway or my child missing out on his education,” he said.

The type of troubles facing Reid are becoming increasingly common as more high-earning middle-class professionals, largely insulated from the ravages of the recession in the past, are now feeling the pain.

Sharp hikes in the cost of essentials — food prices rose 6.2% and fuel went up 7.4% this year — have coincided with pressure on high earners.

Tax rises, including the 50p rate on incomes over £150,000 and the withdrawal of the tax-free personal allowance for those with earnings over £100,000, are expected to reduce the incomes of the top 10% of earners by more than 4% between January 2011 and April 2014, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Just 9% of people expect their household’s financial situation to improve in the next 12 months, a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times reveals.

In response families are tightening their belts by dining out less, downsizing cars and cutting back on holidays.Research by Schroders, the asset management firm, found that 500,000 parents with young children would consider cutting back on private education to make ends meet, by sending only one child to an independent school while the siblings attended state schools.

Grandparents are increasingly taking up the strain, with 275,000 paying to educate their grandchildren privately.

Up to 20 preparatory schools have closed in the past year, according to David Hanson, the chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), although only one of these was an IAPS school. “Our very best schools are surviving; weaker schools are struggling,” he said.

Some prep schools have merged with nearby independent schools. They include Handcross Park school, a day and boarding prep school in West Sussex, which recently merged with Brighton college, East Sussex.

“They approached us and said people are just not buying in to prep schools at the moment,” said Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton college. “Their feeling was that people were delaying expenditure until the age of 11.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of private schools are using the services of debt collection agencies to recover outstanding fees from parents. One agency, Daniels Silverman, now acts for 76 private schools, up from 48 last year. About 560 nurseries have also called on the agency’s services.

In London, the average cost of 25 hours of nursery care for a child under two is £119 a week, equating to £6,188 a year, according to the Daycare Trust.

To read the full article please click the link below:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Society/article778500.ece