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Poor should just find a job that pays more, says Tory minister

A TORY minister sparked an outcry yesterday by saying that those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis should “get a better paid job.”

Home Office Minister Rachel Maclean suggested that hard-up people visit job centres to apply for either more hours or better-paid employment.

Labour’s Ian Murray said that the “ludicrous” advice appeared to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s era.

The shadow Scotland secretary said: “Sounds like the Norman Tebbit ‘get on your bike’ instructions from the 1980s.

“It’s so out of touch with reality that I’m sure the minister knows how ludicrous it is, but they’ll defend Boris Johnson at all costs.”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy branded the comments “tone deaf.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, who is calling for an emergency budget, said: “Working people don’t need lectures, they need help.

“Millions are working flat out but are still struggling to cover the basics.

“It’s a bit rich for ministers to tell people to find better-paid work, especially when they have presided over an explosion of low-paid and insecure jobs.”

Ms Maclean’s comments come just a week after Tory MP Lee Anderson claimed that poor people use foodbanks because they are unable to budget and cook properly.

Meanwhile, a damning report by doctors warned that the cost-of-living crisis and soaring heating and food bills is worsening the health of more than half of Britain’s population.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said that medics were reporting patients becoming ill because they simply could not afford to look after themselves.

A survey commissioned by the college quoted cases including a patient who could not afford to travel to hospital for lung cancer investigation and treatment, and patients’ asthma and other lung conditions being worsened by exposure to mould in poor-quality housing.

The RCP said that health inequality was rampant across Britain.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the University College London institute of health equity, said: “This survey demonstrates that the cost-of-living crisis is damaging the perceived health and wellbeing of poorer people.

“If we require anything of government, at a minimum it is to enable people to have the means to pursue a healthy life.”

RCP president Dr Andrew Goddard said: “The cost-of-living crisis has barely begun, so the fact that one in two people is already experiencing worsening health should sound alarm bells, especially at a time when our health service is under more pressure than ever before.

“The health disparities white paper due later this year must lay out plans for a concerted effort from the whole of government to reduce health inequality.”

Katherine Merrifield, assistant director for healthy lives at the Health Foundation, said: “Today’s findings underscore that the cost-of-living crisis now threatens to further erode people’s health.

“Many more families will have to choose between forgoing essentials that are vital to living healthy lives, such as food and heating, or being driven into the stress and uncertainty of problem debt.

“The government needs to get a hold on the crisis. Recent decisions suggest they are yet to fully grasp the pandemic’s stark lesson that health and wealth are fundamentally intertwined.”

Action for Children described levels of “severe and persistent financial hardship” as “among the worst” it can remember.

The charity said that the government could do “so much more” for people who are struggling the most.

Director of policy and campaigns Imran Hussain said: “The worst pain and misery of the cost-of-living crisis is being felt by children in low-income families, yet the government is refusing to target help for these children or accept that it needs to rethink its huge cut to universal credit.

“The levels of severe and persistent financial hardship our services are seeing are among the worst they can remember and are robbing too many children of the bright futures they deserve.”

He said that the charity’s crisis fund “cannot address the underlying causes driving rising deprivation or offer a solution for families bearing the brunt of this deep-rooted cost-of-living crisis.”

The government said it was doing what it could to help.

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