Why are we paying the price for a cost of living crisis created by the Conservatives?
Welcome to Britain, where profits trump standard of living. On February 3, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced mitigation measures to deal with a snowballing energy crisis threatening the livelihoods of millions of people in Britain. As energy regulator Ofgem announced energy bills would rise by £693 a year from April, ‘Dishi Rishi’ announced a meager £350 aid package for households, in this which he considered a surprisingly generous move to eliminate the “sting” of rising energy cuts.
In France, the government has limited energy bill hikes to 4%, forcing the national energy company to take a £7 billion write-down to protect its citizens from rising costs. In Norway, parliament voted to subsidize household energy bills. In Great Britain, we are rather presented… the Wonga government.
If we ever needed proof of how out of touch conservatives are, the introduction of “loans” to pay energy bills has provided it. The Chancellor proudly announced that all households would receive £200 off their energy bills in October – with the caveat that they would then have to repay the £40 a year rebate over five years from 2023. a world of innovation and possibility, the Conservatives are giving us…payday loans. And, since energy bills are decided by the market based on the prices of the previous year, the Tories will demand refunds when families are still grappling with the massive increases.
We are not only in the midst of an energy crisis of course; now, we realize that a general crisis in the cost of living is well under way. For millions, life is about to get very, very hard, extremely fast. Councils are increasing their tax bills by around 4.4% a year as they struggle to fund community services. Consumers can expect to pay £180 more on average this year for their groceries than in 2021.
Meanwhile, the Bank of England has revealed UK interest rates will double from 0.25% to 0.5%, while National Insurance – which is automatically deducted from your salary – is to be raised by 1 .25% to fund the health and social crisis – a crisis of the Tories’ own making. Then there is what has been called a “stealth tax hike” on student loans. All this against a backdrop of stagnant wages. And these murderous measures have consequences: millions of people will not have the means to live, period.
On the same day Sunak presented his sad apology of a lifeline to the British public, oil company Shell boasted of a “momentary” 14x increase in profits to £12billion. In 2021 it was revealed that they had not been taxed at all on North Sea oil and gas profits for three years. Fossil fuel giant Exxon Mobil had its most profitable year in seven years in 2021 after receiving £360million in UK government grants. And on Tuesday ministers voted to give bankers a £1billion-a-year tax cut.
There is no element of inevitability in the cost of living crisis. Almost £9bn of PPE and £4.3bn of Covid-19 fraud have been written off. Despite this, the Conservatives maintain, of course, that there is no “magical money tree”. The cost of living crisis is a matter of political choice. Allowing gas prices to rise – and refusing to raise taxes on energy companies that earn billions for their shareholders – ultimately fuels energy company profits and puts millions in energy poverty. The message – that everything will cost more, but to compensate, we will all earn less – is the inevitable culmination of a political agenda that blatantly ignores the most vulnerable.
“At the moment, we realize that a general crisis in the cost of living is well under way. For millions, life is about to get very, very hard, extremely fast »
Not surprisingly, the rising cost of living hits minorities and vulnerable communities hardest. A study last year found that people from ethnic and black minorities are among several groups facing disproportionately high living costs, due to the likelihood of being hit by the ‘poverty premium’ and people of color being overrepresented in lower-paying and less secure groups. job. People of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent are more than three times as likely as white people to live in the top 10% deprived neighborhoods, while black women are the least likely to be among the highest earners in the UK.
Feigning concern for the public and determined to replace No. 11 with No. 10, Sunak announced measures that are making life unaffordable for millions. Modeling from the New Economic Foundation says the poorest 10% of families will be even worse off by £450 a year after the supposed council tax refund in April. Indeed, Sunak has summed up the problem himself, highlighting how providing £350 will help “the vast majority of households”.
But when that’s not even enough for the vast majority (the average family facing extra costs of £1,096 a year), deprived communities will struggle on an unfathomable level. Pushing households into abject poverty as they choose between heating and eating, poorer communities have been left out of the equation entirely, with Sunak scaling back the Universal Credit increase months before.
The Conservatives once presented themselves as a “strong and stable” party. They still openly embrace the myth that they are the only responsible administrators of the economy – writing in The sun Yesterday Rishi Sunak said the Tories have ‘always been the party of sound money’. But the math doesn’t add up. Under the Tories, one in three children now live in child poverty, 700,000 more since 2012. Even in 2019, before the pandemic, a fifth of the population lived in extreme poverty, warranting a special UN investigation .
When Covid-19 ends, things look set to get a lot, many worse and the “solutions” offered by the supposed prodigies of economics will only exacerbate the long-term problems, with millions of people to suffer Victorian levels of deprivation. But at least the big companies will have their profits protected. as one writer Put the: “the problem with the remorseless and relentless accumulation of wealth is that eventually you run out of other people to extract capital from”.
“The message – that everything will cost more, but to compensate we will all earn less – is the inevitable culmination of a political agenda that blatantly ignores the most vulnerable”
The Conservatives are not conservatives of the economy – they are conservatives of themselves, having been in government for eleven years. Harnessing a combination of weariness and complacency, the government unleashes murderous measures on a depleted population. It is a depressing irony that this crisis is reaching its climax the same week as the “Leveling Up” white paper, a conservative fantasy that promised no new funding to achieve its goals.
The Conservatives cannot be trusted with the economy. There is a national cost of living crisis in one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. Read that again. We are on the verge of suffering the biggest drop in living standards since comparable records began. A Chancellor worth £200m – the wealthiest man in the House of Commons – is enforcing measures that line the pockets of investors, not those who need them. At some point, then, maybe we should stop allowing millionaires too preoccupied with building tennis courts to build public policy. The myth that the Conservatives are the party of the economy has long been debunking. This crisis cemented it. But unless we do something, it will always be the public who will have to pay the price.
Change comes through collective action. Join the nationwide protests against the cost of living on the 12th February put the standard of living before profits.