The three candidates from the main political parties standing to be Watford’s next MP at the general election have been given the chance to find out more about a charity’s priorities for the next government.

Dean Rusell (Conservative), Matt Turmaine (Labour) and Ian Stotesbury (Liberal Democrat) were briefed when they attended a meeting at Citizens Advice Watford on Monday.

“Through our frontline advice we have a unique, real-time insight into the problems faced by households,” said Steph Stykes, campaigns manager at the charity.

“Our data tells us that close to 8,000 people in Watford are struggling on negative budgets, falling into debt just covering essential bills.

“Poverty is deepening and housing insecurity in particular is now a reality for too many families in the town.”

Citizens Advice has identified eight priority actions for the new government which would immediately pull 1.1 million people across the country out of a negative budget.

The actions include uprating benefits using the Office for National Statistics Household Cost Indices to better reflect the true cost of living, continuing to increase the minimum wage to lift people out of negative budgets, reforming Local Housing Allowance to better people with high rental costs and ending section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

In addition, the organisation wants to see the reforming of disability benefits to improve access, scrapping the five-week wait for Universal Credit and the introduction of comprehensive social tariffs across all essential services, along with improved energy support for those in fuel poverty.

Emma Burgham, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Watford, said: “At Citizens Advice Watford we’re driven by our ambition to make things better for people.

“I’m grateful to Matt, Ian and Dean for giving us their time to look at our Watford data and the actions that our research shows will help move households out of the red and into the black.

“The new government will have tough decisions to make but the current situation is not sustainable. We want to see the tide turned on living standards.”

Watford constituency candidates for the general election on July 4, 2024:

  • Arran Bowen-la Grange – Green Party
  • Sarah Jane Knott - Heritage Party
  • Gary James Ling – Reform UK
  • Khalid Mahmood – Workers Party of Britain
  • Dean Russell – Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Ian Stotesbury – Liberal Democrats
  • Matt Turmaine – Labour Party