The ongoing row about the Government’s planned benefit cuts has highlighted the fact that 60 per cent of claimants are in work.
This raises two issues. First, the complicated system of tax credits introduced by Gordon Brown distributes money even to families with good incomes.
If you work, have two children, pay for childcare and your income is £55,000 a year - as an individual or jointly, if there are two adults in the house - you might receive up to £1,595 a year in tax credits, according to the HM Revenue and Customs website.
If you are in a similar position but don’t pay for childcare then the payments are less, but you can still get £925 a year if you (or you and your partner jointly) earn £30,000.
The median annual salary for someone with a full-time job who works in Birmingham is £26,307.
Tax credits help working people on low incomes but they also many parents on reasonable incomes.
However, the second issue is the fact that being in a job is no longer seen as a guarantee that you will escape poverty.
This is one of the problems Labour leader Ed Miliband has seized on, when he argues that “strivers” aren’t being rewarded for “doing the right thing” and working.
But Tory MPs are also worried – and they have formed a new group called “Blue Collar Conservatism”, which campaigns for the Conservative Party to adopt policies supporting “blue collar” voters including “skilled and semi-skilled manual workers”.
They argue that working class or blue collar voters believe in working hard – but they want to believe that hard work is rewarded. Instead, they are faced with stagnant wages and soaring housing costs.
Supporters of the group include Midland MPs Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase), Dan Byles (North Warwickshire and Bedworth), Michael Fabricant (Lichfield), Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire), Karen Lumley (Redditch), James Morris (Halesowen and Rowely Regis), Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) and Christopher Pincher (Tamworth).