The impact of the Tory cost-of-living crisis reaches far and wide.
However it’s disproportionately impacting the poorest, most vulnerable members of society.
Meanwhile, the UK Tory government is too busy indulging in party scandals, cronyism, peerages for donors and saving Boris Johnson’s skin – instead of dealing with the crisis of their own making.
Here’s all you need to know.
Rising food prices
Campaigner and journalist Jack Monroe, in her viral Twitter thread, noted how the large price increases for household essentials – some of them over 100% in the space of a year – hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest.
- Last year, the cheapest rice in one of the Big Four supermarkets was 45p for a kilogram bag. Today it’s £1 for 500g. That’s a 344% price increase.
- Baked beans: were 22p, now 32p. 45% price increase.
- Canned spaghetti: was 13p, now 35p. 169% price increase.
- Bread: was 45p, now 58p. 29% price increase.
- Curry sauce: was 30p, now 89p. 196% price increase.
Rising energy prices
In the 2014 referendum and the 2016 Brexit referendum, the Tories promised cheaper energy bills.
But between 2015 and 2019 alone, energy prices rose by 40% – and from April, average household energy bills are set to skyrocket by around £700.
National Energy Action estimates that there are already 4.5 million households facing fuel poverty in the UK – and the soaring energy bills will only push more people into fuel poverty if the Tories fail to act.
The cost of Tory Brexit
People, businesses and communities are paying a heavy price for a hard Brexit we never voted for, imposed by a Tory government we never voted for.
And for all the economic disruption caused by Covid, the OBR – the UK government’s own financial body – predicts Brexit hits the economy twice as hard.
Tory cuts: only making the problem worse
Despite the rapidly rising living costs under the Tories’ watch, the UK government ploughed ahead with a cruel £20/week cut to Universal Credit.
The move was the biggest cut to social security since World War Two – and slashed the incomes of over 480,000 families in Scotland overnight.
On top of all the pain caused by 11 years of Tory austerity, the Trussell Trust revealed that the scale of hardship caused by the Universal Credit cut, causing an estimated 1.2 million people to go hungry across the UK.
Tory austerity: slammed by the UN
The UN rapporteur on extreme poverty has called the Universal Credit cut “unconscionable”, adding that it effectively breaks human rights law.
Another UN figure, Prof. Philip Alston, accused the UK government of “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population” – while praising Scotland for taking a different approach.
Scotland is taking a different path on social security, despite limited powers
The Scottish Government is already protecting the people of Scotland from some aspects of UK austerity – for example, through mitigating the Tory bedroom tax.
With one hand tied behind its back, the Scottish Government has introduced a new social security system – with seven brand new benefits such as the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, the only benefit of its kind in the UK.
However, around 85% of welfare expenditure is reserved to Westminster – and damaging Tory policies like the Universal Credit undermine the progress we deliver in Scotland.
Here’s what the Tories must do now to tackle the crisis of their own making
To boost household incomes and reverse the rising levels of poverty, here’s what Rishi Sunak must urgently do:
- Launch a multi-billion pound Brexit Recovery Fund to compensate the growing cost of Brexit.
- Increase and extend the warm home discount, delivered through customers’ bills and funded by the UK government.
- A £20 per-week Child Payment rolled out right across the UK – mirroring Scotland’s “game-changing” policy.
- Reinstate the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit.
- Scrap the abhorrent rape clause, the benefits cap and the punitive sanctions regime.
Tory MPs are too distracted by trying to save Boris Johnson – it’s time to deal with the real issues
More and more people are beginning to see that Westminster is utterly out of touch with the everyday struggles of people across Scotland – and the UK government doesn’t have any solutions for the cost of living crisis they’ve created.
Inflation is rising. Costs are soaring. Hard-pressed families are struggling because of Tory cuts.
It’s time the Tories stop focusing on saving Boris Johnson’s skin, and get on with the day job.