Rachel Maclean, safeguarding minister in the Home Office, has caused outrage after suggesting people who are struggling during the cost of living crisis should consider increasing their hours at work or moving to a better-paid job.
Her comments come as people across the UK struggle with soaring inflation, rising energy bills and food price increases.
Who is Rachel Maclean?
Ms Maclean has been a Conservative party politician for Redditch since 2017, previously serving as parliamentary private secretary to Sajid Javid.
In February 2020 she was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Transport and was moved to her current role, as parliamentary under-secretary of state for safeguarding, on 16 September 2021.
Prior to her political career, Maclean studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford and obtained a master’s degree in Work and Occupational Psychology at Aston University.
After graduation, she entered a fast-track management scheme with HSBC. In 2005, with her husband David, she founded a publishing company specialising in information technology.
What did she say?
On 16 May 2022, Ms Maclean told Sky News: “I think what we need to focus on now is over the long-term.
“We do have these short-term pressures on us that we’re all aware of.
“But 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.
“These are long-term actions but that is what we are focused on as a Government.”
When Sky News presenter Kay Burley countered that some people were already working three jobs, the government minister said she was “not suggesting for one moment” that this option would work for everyone.
She added: "Of course, it’s an individual situation, depending on that particular family’s situation but that’s why the job centres exist, that’s why the work coaches exist, that’s why we’ve put the support into those job centres - to work with individuals on their own individual situation.”
What was the reaction?
Her comments were branded “out of touch” by Labour MP and Shadow Treasury Minister Tulip Siddiq, who said: “This is just so insulting to so many of my constituents who are working every hour possible and struggling to make ends meet. No wonder people think politicians are out of touch.”
Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said: “So the Conservatives’ answer to the cost-of-living emergency is that people should just earn more? This shows just how out of touch they truly are.
"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.
“Instead of blaming people for not earning enough, ministers should take real action to help families and pensioners now - by slashing VAT and putting a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to bring energy bills down.”