It is always wise to be a little suspicious of stories which emerge from private sector surveys, particularly if designed as what journalists in the pre no-deadline online age used to call a ‘Sunday for Monday’.
These were stories which a reporter could tuck away late on Friday afternoon, leaving him safe in the knowledge that the news editor would have at least something for his list come Sunday morning.
Women’s magazines used to be brilliant at generating such stories for the Monday morning papers, usually from pre-Hello era showbiz interviews. Now that there is a whole new industry purely for such celebstuff, the glut has let private sector company surveys take over the Sunday-for-Monday space-filling role somewhat.
What ING Direct have to gain from telling the world that almost four of ten families are so squeezed they can’t afford a summer holiday, I don’t know – encouraging savings plans I guess. I have noticed their poster campaign, so some pretty major profile-building is going on, and whoever had the idea of doing the survey can look at a pretty good clutch of cuttings this morning, and look forward to considerable online and broadcast coverage through the day. Radio phone-in programmes love a good survey to get them going. The story is No 2 on the Telegraph’s most viewed list and doubtless doing well elsewhere.
So depending on which paper’s calculations you believe, 17 or 18 million people will be going without a summer holiday. ‘We’re not going on a summer holiday,’ as Cliff (one of those first name will suffice celebs) almost sang – even at half that 18 million figire, it is quite a big dampener on any feelgood factor. I suppose the only upside to fewer people taking holidays would be more spending closer to home. But if the reason they’re not taking a holiday at all is lack of cash, that may go down in the straw-clutching category.
A two-tier approach to summer holidays, however, will add to the growing sense of irritation at the ‘we’re all in this together’ mantra from Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and their team of job-destroying, pension-chopping, public-spending-slashing, make-it-up-as-they-go-along (yes you Danny) ministers.