Stories from the Squeezed Middle

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Rosie Millard travels to Newcastle and Durham and to Winchester to meet men and women for whom the Recession has meant some tough choices, and in some cases, really tough lives.

They are the so-called 'Squeezed Middle' - middle-incomers who prospered during the Blair years and who enjoyed middle-class lifestyles and aspirations for their children and themselves. With incomes that supported regular holidays, a car or two, schooling and housing choices not to mention a regular bottle of wine, these families have been amongst those hit hardest by the Recession. Of course, they attract less attention and sympathy than those who have least and for whom hardship has always been the norm.

Yet for the men and women of the Squeezed Middle, it's meant real sacrifice in order, for example, to keep their children's educational aspirations alive - "we have to sell the house if she's to take up her university place" - or enduring a hot-waterless long winter because the boiler is on its last legs and the car is a necessity.

Unlike the victims of mass sackings when a high street chain goes bust, these Recession victims have, in many cases, freelance careers, dependent on ad-hoc bookings and commissions for which the market has often all but dried up.

Rosie Millard compares the destinies and despair of women and men in the north and south of England, in each case well removed from the relative economic bubble of London, and finds out just how they now make ends meet and above all what choices they have been forced into to keep their aspirations and expectations alive...

Producer: Simon Elmes and Sarah Bowen.
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