For better or for worse? Our election team look back over five years of the coalition

General Election 2015

General Election 2015 - Credit: Archant

As we come to the end of the Conservative-Lib Dems coalition government, we asked the members of our election team whether life had become better or worse for them over the past five years.

Philip Webster, 87, a retired floating voter, said: ”Over the last five years life has been a good deal better with inflation having been brought under control and consequentially bringing about a marked fall in many retail prices. But against this interest rates have tumbled leading to a substantial fall in income on savings and investments which has had a horrendously negative impact on pension fund values.”

Retired floating voter Alan Morton, 67, said: “I was made redundant in 2008 at a time when the job market was very much a buyer’s market and, with unemployment figures rising daily and vacancies disappearing at faster rate, opportunities for a 60 year old were thin on the ground. However, I did eventually get a job with a civil service agency and retired in 2013.

“The financing of my retirement through purchasing an annuity was seriously impacted by the Bank of England’s policy of quantitative easing and also the EU policy of equalising annuity rates. Both had a detrimental effect on my future fixed income. So the last five years have been very different from the five before that and the jury is out as to whether it’s been better or worse.”

Conservative voter Brian Moores, 64, who works in the street lighting industry said things had got better for him in this period.

“After a period of zero salary increases in the private sector, modest increases are now coming through. Pensions reform has been brilliant and given many people more freedom to use their own money for their own benefit rather than the insurance companies or the state in the form of taxes.

“The recovery in the Stock Market has meant those small investments many people have in stocks and shares or their pension funds have now recovered somewhat to provide better security in the future. This has certainly helped me.”

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Mother and blogger Penny Carr, 36, said: “There have been some big changes in our lives over the last five years as we’ve had two children, and it’s definitely been harder for us. Costs have increased yet our take-home pay has decreased overall.

“The ridiculously high cost of childcare in St Albans, coupled with the cost of commuting to London where I worked before, have made returning to work difficult. I am now self-employed in an attempt to not have to pay to go out to work. Through having kids I also now make use of so many more public services – especially the NHS – and it’s fair to say that the effect of all the cuts has been noticeable over that time.”

But Labour voter Stephen Poxon, 49, who works for The Salvation Army, said: “Life for me personally over the last five years hasn’t changed much at all.”