A Government minister is at the centre of a row after saying workers struggling with rising bills should consider taking on more hours or simply moving to a “better paid job”.
The comments were branded “out of touch” and “insulting” as households face soaring energy and food bills as taxes rise.
“I think what we need to focus on now is over the long-term,” Ms Maclean told Sky News’ Kay Burley on Monday.
“We do have these short-term pressures on us that we’re all aware of.
“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.”
Ms Mclean acknowledged that finding better paid, or more work, would not be for everyone.
She added: “It may be right for some people, they may be able to access additional hours, but, of course, it is not going to work for people who are already in three jobs.
“That’s why we need to have the other measures, such as all the help we are putting into schools, the help with the local authorities ... and that’s where we are going to target help to where it is most needed.”
Labour MP and Shadow Treasury Minister Tulip Siddiq branded the comments “out of touch”.
She 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.”
Ms Maclean’s comments came after Conservative backbench MP Lee Anderson sparked fury by saying many people using foodbanks to survive “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.
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.”
It comes as inflation is predicted to hit double figures later this year as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride warned that the UK was heading for a “wage-price spiral”.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if the Bank of England had failed, he said: “Undoubtedly if you look at the headline [inflation] figures having a target of 2 per cent and moving up to beyond 10 per cent this autumn as is forecast is not a good look.
“It’s fair to say we are not unique in that position - there are a number of countries around the world, US and Spain and Eurozone have worst inflation than we do at the moment.
“The area where you can really criticise the Bank is around what’s happening in the labour market which has become very overheated and I think we are now in the foothills of a wage-price spiral with wage chasing higher prices leading to higher wages in turn.”
A Government spokesman said they recognised “the pressures people are facing with the cost of living, which is why we have set out a £22 billion package of support, including rebates and reductions for energy bills, as well as more targeted support for low income and vulnerable households”.