Advertisement
Employment

‘Out of touch’ Tory minister tells people to work more or get a better job to beat the cost of living crisis

MacLean said more “help is coming” to help people with energy bills and food costs after her comments attracted criticism.

A Tory minister has been labelled “out of touch” for suggesting people who are struggling with the cost of living crisis should simply work more hours or get a better job.

Safeguarding minister Rachel MacLean said more “help is coming” after making the claim on the morning media rounds.

But her comments have been criticised with both Labour and trade union bosses describing the view as “out of touch”.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

MacLean told Sky News: “Over the long term we need to have a plan to grow the economy and make sure that people are able to protect themselves better – whether that is by taking on more hours or moving to a better paid job and these are long term actions but that’s what we’re focused on as a government.”

It’s not the first time a Conservative minister has faced criticism for suggestions on how households can deal with rising energy bills, food costs and surging inflation.

Earlier this month, environment secretary George Eustice was ridiculed after suggesting people should switch to value brands to make ends meet at a time when even money expert Martin Lewis has said he is “out of tools” to help without more government support.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Official figures show that unemployment in the UK is at 3.8 per cent, around the levels seen before the pandemic in 2019.

But work is not paying enough to help people in the face of rising costs. Around 40 per cent of people who claim universal credit are working and wages have struggled to keep up with surging inflation.

The Big Issue Jobs

Looking for work?

There are 1 million new opportunities available at Big Issue Jobs.

The annual growth for total pay was 5.4 per cent in the year leading up to April, according to the Office for National Statistics, but inflation rose by seven per cent in the same period and it is set to rise further this year, further cutting pay in real terms.

After being questioned on her stance, MacLean said: “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.”

Article continues below

However, MacLean then qualified her statement to say that each person’s “individual situation” is different and that “it’s not going to work for people who are already working in three jobs”.

Her comments angered Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, who reiterated the opposition party’s call for a windfall tax on energy firm’s profits to pass on to struggling households. MPs are set to vote on the tax in the Commons tomorrow.

“This Tory government could not be more out of touch or out of ideas,” said Siddiq.

“As energy bills rise by record amounts for millions of families, comments like this are ridiculous – as is the prime minister’s refusal to back a windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits that could tackle the cost of living crisis.

“Tomorrow, Labour will give this Conservative government another chance to support our windfall tax.

“Britain needs a government that is on working people’s side. Only Labour can tackle the cost of living crisis and deliver the stronger economy we need.”

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect union, also said the comments showed MacLean was “ out of touch”.

“Taking more hours or getting a better paid job is not an option for many,” Clancy said.

“Whether that is for working families struggling with the crippling cost of childcare. Or for highly skilled workers in sectors like heritage, where staff often with multiple degrees work for poverty pay. Or even public servants who have already taken big real terms cuts to their pay over the last decade.

“For all of them this just isn’t an option. The government needs to get serious about boosting pay in the private, and public sector, before workers drown in this crisis through no fault of their own.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “Working people don’t need lectures – they need help.”

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
BT workers vote for first national call centre strike in UK history
Strike action

BT workers vote for first national call centre strike in UK history

What is a universal basic income and why is Wales giving it to care leavers?
UBI

What is a universal basic income and why is Wales giving it to care leavers?

The next Mick Lynch? As strike action escalates, these are the union leaders you may come to know
Strike action

The next Mick Lynch? As strike action escalates, these are the union leaders you may come to know

Wales launches monthly £1,600 universal basic income payments for care leavers
Universal basic income

Wales launches monthly £1,600 universal basic income payments for care leavers

Most Popular

Read All
Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff
1.

Exclusive: BT call centre sets up 'food bank' for its own staff

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Rainn Wilson emailed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to say Harry Mudd would 'fit right in'
3.

Rainn Wilson emailed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to say Harry Mudd would 'fit right in'

The UK approach to replacing the Human Rights Act is just as worrying as the replacement itself
4.

The UK approach to replacing the Human Rights Act is just as worrying as the replacement itself

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.