Bills are up, food prices are up, transportation costs are up, National Insurance contributions are up; yet wages are down.
Research by the Food Foundation revealed that, last month, a million UK adults went an entire day without eating because they could not afford to put a meal on the table. This worrying situation will only worsen as inflation drives up food prices, and people struggle to provide for themselves and their families.
This is compounded by the fact that soaring energy prices – alongside the removal late last year of the £20 Covid top-up to Universal Credit – is bringing further misery to millions of people across the country.
Last year the Trussell Trust reported that food banks in its UK network gave more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people facing crisis between April 2020 and March 2021. More than 980,000 of these went to children.
A year on, the situation is even bleaker, and I will be continuing to challenge the Government in Parliament to do more to help all those who now face unacceptable hardship.
In the sixth richest country in the world, we are facing the damning reality that people are having to choose between food and fuel. That is completely unacceptable and is a clear ideological decision by the Tories, given they ruled out options such as a windfall tax on energy companies that have just posted multi-billion pound profits.
How have we ended up here?
As I’ve already alluded to, it is important to remember that this was not inevitable. The Conservative Government is making the cost of living crisis worse through tax hikes, low growth, falling real wages, and a failure to tackle inflation and the energy crisis. The Government failed to prepare properly for Brexit and the resulting labour shortage and supply chain disruption is impacting our food supplies and prices.
Working families are being hit with a triple whammy as the Conservatives are:
- cutting Universal Credit, impacting six million families,
- increasing National Insurance Contributions for working people,
- failing to protect consumers against inflation and rising energy bills despite their friends at Shell and BP making record profits
What can we do?
We demand this Government stop its obsessive attacks on the poorest. Labour would support pensioners and the lowest earners, who would receive up to £600 off bills, offsetting the expected energy increase. The Government should immediately reverse cuts to Universal Credit and increases in National Insurance.
But these are all just sticking plasters on the gaping and widening wound that separates the rich from the poor in this country. The Conservatives have spent 11 long years proving that they will never act in the interests of anyone but themselves and their Etonian pals.
Consumers should not be forced to foot the bill for rises in the cost of energy while gas companies are reporting record profits. Those in work should not need to top up their income with Universal Credit and trips to foodbanks while bankers enjoy record bonuses.