Britain’s Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean, told Sky News on Monday that those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis should work more hours or move to a better-paid job.
The Labour Party accused her of being “disconnected from the realities of people’s lives.”
Maclean promised that the government would provide “more help” to people struggling with food and energy bills, but that in the meantime, people should help themselves.
“We have often heard in the past when people are facing problems with their budgets that one of the obstacles – and it may not be for everybody – is about being able to take on more hours or even move to a better-paid job,” she suggested.
“That’s why the job centers exist, that’s why the work coaches exist, that’s why we’ve put the support into those job centers,” she continued, before admitting “of course it’s not going to work for people who are already working in three jobs.”
With inflation predicted to surpass 10% by the end of the year, Britons are facing skyrocketing food and fuel costs, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine and British sanctions on Russia. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, real household incomes will fall by 2.2% this year, and Britons will experience the largest fall in living standards since records began in 1956.
Amid reports that some Brits are already having to choose between food and medication, the Labour Party’s Peter Kyle, who is shadow Northern Ireland secretary, hammered Maclean’s suggestion.
Describing how he had recently met a single mother with two jobs at a food bank, Kyle told Sky News that “the idea that she could work longer and therefore not spend more time with her family…I think it’s just disconnected from the realities of people’s lives.”
“What we need ministers to be doing is solving the economic problems that families have because of the economic problems our country faces,” he continued, “their jobs as politicians aren’t just to tell people to work harder, work longer and go for a promotion.”
The Liberal Democrats’ work and pensions spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain also chimed in, calling the Conservative Party “out of touch,” and saying that “millions of families have had to make huge cutbacks and taken on extra work in order to weather the cost of living crisis. They simply cannot do any more.”
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