Gillian Guy is Chief Executive of Citizens Advice.
Living costs is not a Party Political issue, and if David Cameron truly wants to deliver his vision for the UK then this is the crisis he must tackle urgently.
Meeting living costs has long dominated people’s lives and is the dominant political and public policy issue in the UK.
At Citizens Advice, it is our job to support people struggling to pay their bills. We’re in no doubt that the parties are right to try to address this crisis.
The Coalition parties make repeated reference either to being on the side of ‘hard working families’ or their desire to ‘help people get on in life’, whilst Ed Miliband focuses his attention on ‘the squeezed middle’.
Ministers often talk about families ‘doing the right thing’ by working hard, looking for work, paying their bills and trying to avoid state support. But the reality is that ’doing the right thing’ is often not enough, and those in work are increasingly in need of support.
We recently revealed that in the past six months there has been a 78 per cent rise in the number of foodbanks enquiries at our bureaux, many of them from people in stable employment. A survey of parents showed that 1 in 4 is forced to borrow money to pay for their children’s school uniforms. And just last week, we showed that 1 in 5 people who has a problem with bailiffs is in work.
Positive economic news is welcome, as are cautious but ever-increasing predictions that the economy is leaving one of its darkest periods. But that should not mask a fundamental malaise which our bureaux help people to cope with on a daily basis.