I got the idea for this feature  which is in today’s Weekend magazine from an American internet thread that went viral earlier in 2012.

The first poster asked: ‘What’s your hhi [household income] and do you FEEL poor, middle class, upper middle class or rich where you live. No judging’. The responses shocked readers around the world – anonymously, couples on incomes well over $100,000 a year said they felt poor. The thread made compulsive reading with its open discussion of what makes someone middle class, rich or poor, and how people feel about their relative work incomes, and what they would consider to be doing ‘well’.

I wondered if a feature could pose a similar question and throw open the debate in the UK.

A few months ago, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation announced a couple with two children now needs to earn £36k to have an acceptable standard of living; more than before the recession. What, today in Britain, is a good income, and what is struggling? It’s the one subject even good friends never discuss in Britain – ‘how much do you earn?’ is a question no-one dares to ask anyone else – and yet surely most of us would secretly like to know what our friends and colleagues earn.