Millions of people in Britain will be pushed to breaking point with inflation set to surge on Wednesday. Economists forecast that the consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation would jump from seven to 9.1 percent.
The more accurate retail price index measure of inflation, also released on Wednesday, would be higher, probably in double figures. The figures reflect the 54 percent jump in average household energy bills since the beginning of April.
Behind the statistics are real poverty, hardship and pain. Food bank charity Feeding Britain said this week that people on low incomes who used prepayment energy meters are increasingly being pushed into destitution by rising costs and punitive debt collection.
It highlighted the case of a woman with children who disconnected her heating and electricity because she could not meet a combined debt of £15. And a man self-disconnected after running up an £8.75 debt.
Bosses and politicians are concerned only by how this might hit profits. NatWest bank chair Sir Howard Davies says the poorest 20 percent will need to “reduce their discretionary spending by 20 percent”. He is worried that will lead to people not repaying their loans.
Meanwhile Home Office minister Rachel Maclean—who claimed just over £213,000 in expenses last year—told workers to “take on more hours, or even move to a better paid job” if they are finding it tough in the cost of living crisis.
The government occasionally says it is considering further action to help ordinary people. But its actual programme, announced last week, is to cut over 90,000 jobs in the civil service. The money gained will be used for tax cuts—which will favour the rich. And slashing jobs will make a recession even more likely. Already the Office for National Statistics says the economy shrunk by 0.1 percent in March after being completely stagnant in February.
Labour was set to call for a parliamentary vote on Tuesday to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies. Certainly, there should be such a tax, but the government is likely to brush aside such demands. And a one-off tax would have only very limited effects. We need more of the sort of struggles highlighted in Socialist Worker.
The TUC union federation march and rally, “We demand better,” on 18 June in London is a focus to show the anger against the Tory attacks. It has to be a big show of resistance and every trade unionist and campaigner should build it. It must be a launchpad for the wave of strikes and further mass protests that are so urgently needed.
RMT leaders must call more action
A possible warning of more repression to come
They’re game, and set to match bosses with escalation