Turn off the heat and no meat

APoorer citizens turn off the heat, go only to discounters, some even forgo meals altogether to save money – rapidly rising prices are a drastic burden for millions of British consumers. “Our energy bills were incredibly high, the food went crazy,” complains Monika, a Polish woman who works as a housekeeper in South London. “All my acquaintances only talk about rising prices,” she says. Her income is no longer sufficient, she now also works on Saturdays. Her friends think about how to save. “Some turn off their electrical devices to save electricity. We hardly eat meat anymore, it’s too expensive, “says Monika. And instead of using her husband’s car, a construction worker, she just drives the scooter.

In a television interview this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confronted the case of 77-year-old Elsie, who has been using her free ticket to take the bus for days: it’s hot and hot, but she can’t keep her apartment warm. . Johnson expressed sympathy for the concerns of the population. However, he did not promise additional social benefits at the expense of the taxpayers. The best protection is a strong economy with higher wages. After all, unemployment is very low and there is almost full employment.

Multiple price shock

Many families are still on the edge. “Very high inflation, which will rise to around 9% in the spring, will push 1.3 million more people, including 500,000 children, below the poverty line this fiscal year,” said Jack Leslie. , an economist with the Resolution Foundation think tank who works for socially disadvantaged people. The Resolution Foundation sets the poverty line for a childless couple at £ 14,000 (€ 16,800) of annual disposable income, net of housing costs. Particularly in the north of England there are many low-income families. During the Crown period, poverty in Britain had decreased as the government paid more welfare. The £ 20 per week (Universal Credit) welfare increase, a staggering £ 1,000 per year, expired again in autumn 2021.

In April, households were hit by multiple price shocks. The strongest increase was in government-regulated energy bills. For an average family, the roof has increased from nearly £ 700 to nearly £ 2,000 per year. In addition, social security contributions are on the rise, weighing on employee income and employer contributions by 1.25 per cent each.

Wages and salaries on the island are rising, recently including allowances by around 5%. But inflation eats everything up and causes painful real wage losses. Food prices have increased by almost 6% on average. In addition to gas and petrol, the war in Ukraine has made agricultural products in particular more expensive. “A large pack of chicken breasts in our supermarket costs 25% more, now costs £ 12.50. We now buy almost nothing but vegetables,” says cleaning lady Monika.

According to the Kantar market research institute, the average family now pays £ 271 more per year for their groceries. Many consumers turn to discounters, says Kantar’s Fraser McKevitt, because “they have to count every penny.” The central bank is likely to tighten monetary policy this Thursday and raise the benchmark interest rate by 0.25 points to 1% in order to curb inflation. But you can already see that rising prices are slowing the economy down.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak outspoken

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak became popular, he is now considered the aloof Chancellor of the Exchequer of the tax increase. Trade unions, social organizations and the Labor opposition are calling for more aid. Sunak has granted 28 million households a £ 200 discount on their energy bills, which they will have to repay in installments over the next five years. Poorer households will receive an additional £ 150 subsidy for their gas and electricity bills. In addition, Sunak has increased social security contributions so that millions of low-income workers pay less.

From the point of view of social organizations and trade unions, this is not enough. “The longer Rishi Sunak delays action, the more people are taken to food banks and in need,” said Frances O’Grady, TUC secretary general. You are referring to the rush to the tafels (food banks) with their discounted or free groceries.

2.1 million food packages

The 1,400 food stalls run by the Trussell Trust are stacked to the ceiling with boxes of preserves, rice, pasta and cereals. The demand is increasing. In the 12 months to April, the Trust lost 2.1 million food packages, 14% more than the previous year. Trussell director Emma Review tells bad stories. “We have reports of people skipping meals alone in order to feed their children,” says the head of the Tafel association. “How can this be right in a society like ours?” She is calling for social security benefits to increase by at least 7% to keep up with the cost of living.

Johnson called on all cabinet members to look for ways in their departments and areas to reduce costs for citizens. At the latest in the autumn budget, Sunak will probably not be able to avoid further relief measures, as it is feared that the energy bill could then rise by another 700 pounds.

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