COMMENT: Austerity is still a reality for too many families

Worrying news from Citizens Advice Bureaux in our city and towns that they are helping ever-growing numbers of people burdened by debt.

Portsmouth CAB reckons its caseload has doubled in the past financial year, and other centres in the area paint a similar picture.

Portsmouth CAB’s Chief officer Sandy O’Neill said it was particularly worrying that a wider range of people were falling into serious debt.

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She said: ‘Our typical client used to be those who were right on the poverty line but now the problems are becoming more widespread.

‘Many of these households, working full-time jobs, are struggling to even pay for their essential expenditure.

Food isn’t being put on the table, and some people are going without gas or electricity.’

Putting aside the dubious ethics of proffering easy credit to people who can barely afford to pay for the basics in life, it is clear that the days of austerity are far from over for many people.

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Food banks are still doing brisk work, and changes to the benefits system, with the introduction of Universal Credit and its inherent delays, point to even tougher times ahead.

That is even before last week’s rise in interest rates begins to hit the pockets of people struggling to pay a mortgage.

Prime minister Theresa May took office pledging to look after the people in society who were ‘just about managing.’

Since then Westminster has become embroiled in the interminable Brexit saga, and, more recently, the sleaze scandal which is growing ever more unseemly.

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Time then, for distracted politicians to remind themselves why we vote for them.

When times are tough we look to the government to provide solutions and to make life better.

Time to get on with the job in hand?