‘We want living wages, we want proper living wages,’ says Helen Somers.
A teaching assistant has said that “a wage that went up at the same rate as the cost of living” would help more than Liz Truss’s proposal to reduce the tax burden.
The Foreign Secretary has been criticised for her plans, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying her emergency tax-cutting budget risks becoming an “electoral suicide note” for the Conservatives.
He said Ms Truss is proposing “limited” tax cuts via her plan to scrap the national insurance hike, arguing it would “do little” for the most vulnerable.
Helen Somers, from Bingley, West Yorkshire, earns around £11,000 a year as a teaching assistant at a primary school.
The 51-year-old, who has myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), was not optimistic that either Ms Truss or Rishi Sunak would be able to help people like her fight the cost-of-living crisis.
She told the PA news agency: “I don’t think either of the ones that are in the running understand what we are going through, so I don’t think either of them will help us, will they really?
“They’re not in the real world, are they?
“We want living wages, we want proper living wages.”
On the subject of a tax cut proposal, Ms Somers added: “well, it wouldn’t help really that much, because I only earn £11,000 a year.
“It still doesn’t cut the mustard does it? What about pensioners? How does a tax cut help pensioners? They’re not earning.
“So she’s not really looking at helping everybody, she’s looking at helping the big earners that pay more tax.”
Ms Truss’s campaign has been forced onto the defensive in recent days after the Foreign Secretary suggested there would be no “handouts” if she won the leadership contest and that her priority was reducing the tax burden.
But her allies have insisted she is committed to helping families struggling with soaring bills and further direct support has not been ruled out.
As the Tory leadership race rumbles on meanwhile, experts at Uswitch said on Wednesday that six million homes across the UK owe an average of £206 to their energy provider, according to a survey from the company. In April, the same average debt was £188.
Ms Somers said that August will be the last month where she is “fully up-to-date” with her bills – having been paying £70 a month for her gas and electric this time last year, she is now paying just under £200.
She said her energy company has forecast she will be paying more than £500 in January.
“It’s that ridiculous you couldn’t cry because you just think that’s beyond belief,” she said.
“You just think ‘how on earth do they expect us to live with all this?’
“I’m fuming when you look at what the big bosses at the top are earning. They’ve no worries about the little man. They’ve no empathy, no feelings about what everyone’s going through.”