A TORY minister has told people who are struggling desperately to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis that they should work extra hours or move to a better-paid job.

The comment has sparked fury and fuelled further accusations that Boris Johnson’s administration is totally detached from the struggles ordinary people are facing as a result of the pandemic and Brexit, as well as soaring inflation, energy prices and food bills.

Safegaurding minister Rachel Maclean, speaking to Sky News, sought to reassure low-paid workers that there was a way to “protect themselves”.

She insisted there is “more help coming” from the UK Government to relieve “short-term pressures” – despite Tory minister repeatedly ruling out an emergency budget to tackle the poverty crisis.

She added: "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."

READ MORE: Who is Rachel Maclean – the minister accused of 'insulting' working families on Sky News

Challenged on that point by host Kay Burley – who pointed out that many people who work multiple jobs still rely on food banks – Maclean doubled down.

She replied: "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.

"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.

"So it may be right for some people – they may be able to access additional hours.

"But of course it's not going to work for people who are already working in three jobs."

READ MORE: Tory MP doubles down on 'disgraceful' food bank rant as he slams 'gutter press'

Scotland’s Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville was among scores of politicians to condemn the remarks.

She referenced comments last week from Tory MP Lee Anderson, who blamed poor cooking and budgeting skills for food bank use. “Last week folk were too stupid to cook properly,” Somerville commented. “This week folk are too lazy to work enough hours. Can’t believe that UK Government’s response to cost of living crisis is to blame the people being hit the hardest.”

Scottish Labour MP and shadow Scotland Office minister, Ian Murray, characterised the remarks as tone deaf and said they harked back to Margaret Thatcher era policies. 

He replied: “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.”

SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said Maclean was making the case for Scottish independence.

“Plenty of the folk now struggling hardest with the cost of living crisis are key workers,” he tweeted. “Mind how they worked throughout the pandemic. Yet here we are; the @Conservatives doing what they do best. Scotland are you watching.”

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq added: "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."

Speaking later to LBC, Maclean said “nothing is off the table” when it came to extending support to the public through the current crisis.

She was told that, even after £22 billion of support from central Government had been accounted for, food banks were facing increased demand and child poverty was predicted to rise by the winter.

“You will know that the Chancellor always keeps everything under review in terms of the fiscal response,” she replied.

“What we want to do is make sure we are protecting families and help them to weather the storm, and you have seen that response coming into place, you have seen it all the way through the Covid pandemic.

“Nothing is off the table and we will make sure we do everything we can to protect families.”

The Prime Minister has signalled in recent days that he could cave in to opposition demands for a windfall tax on energy giants. 

The National:

It’s reported Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told Treasury officials to examine plans for a levy on the soaring profits of oil and gas firms.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, who is calling for an emergency budget, said on Monday: “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.”

Maclean is the latest Tory minister to be accused of being out of touch over the cost of living. Last weel, Michael Gove was criticised for using "silly voices" during a BBC interview about the poverty crisis.

And earlier this month, Environment Secretary George Eustice was branded “patronising and insulting” after suggesting struggling families should shop around for “value” deals.

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said: “With each day that passes another out of touch Tory minister shames themself by making callous comments like this in an attempt to shift the blame over the cost of living crisis to the ordinary people left suffering from it.

“This blame for this crisis lies squarely at the feet of UK Tory government who have yet to offer any meaningful action or support for families who are facing energy bills rising by 50% and their wages stagnate – it’s clear all the Tories have to offer is insults.

“People wouldn’t need to take on another job or seek better pay had the Tories accepted calls years ago to implement the Real Living Wage – instead they’ve allowed millions of people to suffer on poverty wages as levels of in-work poverty continue to soar."

She added: “As well as an introduction of the Real Living Wage we need to see a comprehensive package of measures to support households including a new child payment to tackle poverty and the turning of the paltry £250 energy support loan into a much more generous grant.

“If the Tories think this crisis will pass without significant direct government action they have their heads buried in the sand – all at the expense of the people they should be supporting.”