What The Heck Is

What the heck is… JAM?

By Kitty Knowles 23 November 2016
How much you you agree with Theresa May? Pic: CC/Flickr/UKHomeOffice

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: What's 'JAM' and why's it all over the Autumn Statement?

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… sheds light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From Hygge to helicopter money, we’re on a mission to explain the unexplained.

Today we’re shining a light on a term that spread like wildfire ahead of this year’s Autumn Statement: ‘JAM’.

What is JAM?

Since entering No 10, Theresa May has continually referenced her intention to help the “just managing”, but what does it mean?

These are people who are employed, but suffer the pains of job insecurity and insufficient pay.

They might own a home, but paying the mortgage each month can be a challenge. They are conservative in thought, but believe that the government should be doing more to rebalance the economy.

Think tank the Resolution Foundation has used the following to help define the group:

  • You are a member of a family, in a household with at least one working income.
  • The earner(s) in your family will probably work full-time.
  • You may make up to £50,000, but will be struggling to cope because of several children.
  • Your income may be topped up by welfare such as tax credits. 20 years ago you probably owned your home, now you’re more likely to rent.
  • Your household savings add up to less than a month’s wages.
  • You probably voted Brexit.

From ‘Just Managing’ families to ‘JAM’

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, is reportedly responsible for coining the new, spinnier, term ‘JAM’ in July – an acronym for ‘Just About Managing’.

George Osborne had “hard-working families”, Ed Miliband spoke of “the squeezed middle”, and Nick Clegg referred to “alarm clock Britain”. Now, with its spiralling use, JAM looks to be the defining term of Theresa May’s time as PM.

You will definitely hear a lot of JAM in discussion of today’s Autumn Statement.

Why should you care?

Despite the fact numerous governments have promised to help families living on the edge, for many life has only got harder.

House prices and rent continue to rise, putting pressure on ever emptier pockets.

Some have praise May’s focus, while others despair ‘JAM’ as misleading pomp.

Whatever you make of it, JAM is here to stay. And it won’t be served with a side of clotted cream.

Read more: What the heck is…. fake news?

Read more: What the heck is growth hacking?

Read more: What the heck is… Hygge?