Business

Economy watch panel

In October the government will reveal the full details of cuts to public spending. This comes as the UK emerges from recession but faces choppy waters ahead on its path to full recovery.

We have assembled a panel of voters who will talk about how government spending decisions and changes in the broader economy will impact on their lives. Click on images of members of the panel to find out what they have to say.

Link to Julie George Link to Tom Gaughan Link to Maria Edoo Link to Derek Brabrook Link to Martin Steers Link to Jean Girling Link to Neil Younger

Maria Edoo - Worried about cuts to child tax credits

The past 18 months have been very hard for us. I have one child in full-time education and two pre-school children which means child care costs are very high. Luckily one of my younger children will be starting school in September.

We don't spend that much money, we don't go out at the weekend and we don't go on holiday.

When we got unexpected bills we were putting them on credit cards. Unfortunately our credit card bills got too high, so we had to secure a loan against our house to pay them off.

I am worried about what will happen in January when VAT goes up, and then in April when there will be cuts to child tax credits.

I think the government is wrong to reduce child tax credits - what will happen to working mothers? Does the government want to push them out of work?

My husband works as a computer engineer and I am now job sharing for an airline company. The company is automating more and more of the ground operation, so I am worried about the future of my job. I have started going to college so I can prepare for an alternative career.

At the moment there is total uncertainty. What will happen if interest rates go up? What cuts will there be in education?

I am sceptical of the new government, but I am happy that they have put a cap on immigration from outside the EU. This should help ease pressure on services and mean there are more jobs available.

Tom Gaughan - Glad the government is tackling the deficit

I work in print, which is a tight margin industry at the best of times. Prices of raw products like paper pulp and inks have been rising at 8-10% each quarter, but demand has been falling.

People don't want to print leaflets because of the cost. When there is a recession, marketing budgets get cut - and that means we lose revenue.

I'm the production director which means I'm responsible for 24 people's jobs. But I've also got to make the business effective so we can make money. This means we've had to move people around within the business to different roles and some have taken a pay cut. The rest have not had a pay rise in three years. The upside of this is that I haven't had to lay anyone off and we are stable.

My income means I've been paying more tax for some time. I don't mind paying more if the money is spent wisely on the people who deserve it like the emergency services, schools and pensioners.

My wife is a nurse and she sees some of the waste that has occurred in the NHS. Too much money was spent on the emergence of the NHS Trusts and the unnecessary managerial appointments this created.

I hate to think that the money I pay each month is being frittered away. So I think it's about time that costs were cut and the number of civil servants reduced where possible. I'm glad to hear announcements about tackling the benefits bill too.

It's still too early to say what will happen with the economy. I don't think things will fully recover for another 18 months. We'll just have to tough it out.

Neil Younger - "My concern is the pay freeze I'll get"

I've been in a good position financially over the last couple of years, but it looks like I might be hit just as the UK is coming out of recession.

I feel pretty safe in my job. In this region there has been a shortage of qualified paramedics - so they have actually been hiring more people.

I've been on a tracker mortgage over the past couple of years, so I was paying less and less each time interest rates went down. I took the decision not to make overpayments so I've had a bit of extra money.

I know people in the restaurant business, and they have been doing quite well over the last couple of years. That means there must have been some people still spending money.

My concern is the pay freeze I'll get over the next couple of years - which David Cameron admits actually means a pay cut.

I'm also worried about prices going up. I commute to Yorkshire - that's a round trip of 70 miles. So I'm concerned about petrol prices. I'm also worried about general inflation hitting basics like groceries.

And if interest rates go up so will my mortgage.

I'm waiting to see what will happen with the cuts. But I think the government may be cutting too much too quickly.

The way the cuts to the schools' building programme was handled was a bit of a mess. So I hope that when ministers announce the full spending cuts they will be clear on the details. I don't want to see more mistakes, or people given false hope.

Even though the NHS budget is being protected, I still think there may be belt-tightening. I've already heard about cost cutting in other ambulance services.

Martin Steers - Graduate looking for work

The last year has been a bit of a struggle. I took a year out to do work placements and finish my dissertation. This meant I didn't have money from a student loan for the past 12 months.

It's been difficult doing both work placements - which will help with my long term career - and paid work to get some cash in my pocket. I had three weeks unpaid work in London this summer, and ended up paying for the travel myself.

Basically I've been putting my expenses on credit cards.

I also tried to sign on in Easter, but I wasn't able to because I live with my partner and she's working. She's also felt the impact of the recession. She works for the civil service and she's been told that there is little chance of progression for at least five years.

Being at university means I was isolated from the recession. But everyone I know has been thinking about the economy. Some students have been looking to do Masters degree to put off joining the job market.

There is huge competition for jobs at the moment. I was considering applying for media regulator Ofcom's graduate programme and I heard that this year there were 1,500 applicants for 10 positions.

But I do feel that there must be light at the end of the tunnel. And, in a way, I'm lucky. It's better to be starting out on in your career than to lose a good job and be faced with mounting bills.

Derek Brabrook - Back in work after two years unemployment

I have only just managed to get a job after nearly two years of being unemployed.

For the whole time I was out of work I was applying for three or four jobs every day, but I only had a few interviews. There is so much competition for jobs - one employer told me they had received 400 applications for one post.

So I was surprised when I got an email a couple of weeks ago inviting me for an interview. I had applied for the post months ago and completely forgotten about the application. And I was over the moon when I was told I had secured the job - beating 37 candidates to the position.

The period of unemployment was pretty dire. We were relying on my wife's salary alone and the hardest thing was just finding money to pay the bills. Sometimes I had to ring people up to explain I couldn't settle a bill until the following month.

We had to deal with spiralling living costs. Petrol prices have also gone sky high and that was a big problem for us. We live in a very rural area where the bus service is patchy at best so we have to run a car.

I've been self-employed in the past, so I also tried to start up my computer business again. But people simply weren't spending money so I didn't get anywhere.

Things are looking brighter for me and for the country too. I'm just happy to have a job now. I don't think very much past that.

Jean Girling - Concerned about low interest rates

I think everyone feels a little insecure at the moment. As pensioners, my husband and I have no means of making money. When we were younger we were always able to work harder when times were hard.

We can afford to pay off our debts now, but I worry about what might happen if things get worse. Our incomes have dropped quite considerably because interest rates are so low that we can't make much money on our savings.

I am concerned about my grandchildren. I have six, aged between 15 and 30 and they have all been through periods of worry about their jobs, or about getting a job. One of my granddaughters graduated with a double first in English but has had to settle for a position in a supermarket for now.

The last 18 months have been an absolute mess. The government got carried away with spending and the banks were too willing to lend to people. Everyone was encouraged to buy now and pay later. I am glad to see the back of those times.

I am glad the new government is going to tackle the national debt, and I do believe the civil service had become bloated. I don't like to see people out of work, but we can't afford to pay so many people.

My husband and I used to be in business and we knew that if we didn't have enough money coming in then we'd have to lay people off.

Provided the government doesn't cut too hard, I believe that things will get better over the next four years. And dash it all - I want to stay cheerful.

Julie George - Concerned about changes to benefits

I am disabled and so is my husband, we both get disability living allowance (DLA) and housing benefit.

It's been quite tough over the last 18 months. Prices have been rising - gas, electricity, even food - but our income has not.

Luckily I was in the catering trade so I know how to make food from scratch, rather than buying expensive convenience food.

But when I have unexpected bills - when things break down - I have to rely on my daughter for help.

The few savings we had were lost in the recession. Some of the money has just gone down over time, and we also had shares in a company that went bust.

I voted Conservative and I feel some of the things the government has done are good. They were right to cut tax for the lowest paid, and freeze council tax. They were right to get rid of ID cards.

But I'm feeling stressed, I'm concerned about how changes in benefits will affect me. I know that the government wants to cap housing benefit at specific levels, but I'm worried they will go further and my benefits will be cut. I don't think ministers have clearly explained what they plan to do.

We are using DLA to make up the shortfall between our rent and what we get in housing benefit. I am sceptical of plans to medically test people on this benefit. I am already assessed every couple of years, so how is this assessment going to help? I feel that the government is demonising everyone on benefits so they can make deeper cuts

I have a gut feeling that things are going to get worse and we are going to have a double dip recession.