By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2799

People speak out against price rises that strangle living standards

Unless there's a revolt, hardship and poverty will hit millions of people
Issue 2799
Three protesters over prices with placards "Don't force pensioners to choose between heating and eating".

Fuel price rises will drive up the poverty that these protesters highlighted in February (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Gas and electric prices will soar on Friday pushing many people over the edge into hardship and poverty.

Hunger, missed rent and mortgage payments and not enough cash to cover bills are a growing threat for millions of working class people. The energy price cap will rise almost £700 to £1,971 a year for an average household. Disgracefully those who have been put on prepayment meters—overwhelmingly the poorest people—will see a greater increase of £708.

Single mother Tamsin from Coventry told Socialist Worker, “My gas and electric bill is going up from £167 to £232 a month and my rent has gone up as well. “We’re looking for savings with things like no more Netflix—every tenner counts. Most of my wage already goes on bills, I’ll need to work more.”

Rising bills and low wages hit Tamsin before the Covid pandemic began. She added, “It’s always been a struggle, I don’t get any help from the state. “I had to resort to the social supermarket before Christmas. I work and I’m having to live a similar life to what I did when I was on benefits. Once the money for all my bills has gone out, I have not much left to have any sort of life. Come June I’ll really be in the shit, I’m trying not to think about it.”

Paula Peters, a member of the Disabled People Against Cuts steering committee, told Socialist Worker, “In the last 12 years disabled people have been hammered by austerity cuts and year on year cost of living increases including extortionate social care charges, energy costs and benefit cuts.

“Disabled people are already in debt to energy providers. There are over 4 million disabled people in abject poverty and they can’t afford the cost of food, transport and everything else.”

Paula added, “The cost of energy will have a catastrophic impact. Disabled people simply don’t have anything left to give. Many have a ‘pay as you go’ card and key system where prices have doubled to over £2,000 a year.

“Many disabled people don’t have that money but need to keep their homes warm with the conditions they have. “Disabled people are dying now and they’re going to die next winter. The spring statement did nothing for disabled people, and all this government has callously shown is that we’re expendable and they see us as worthless.”

Dan, a rail worker in the West Midlands, agrees. He said, “I haven’t had a pay rise in over two years, so I’m seeing how price rises are just taking up more and more of my pay. “Many workers will be forced to use food banks or payday loans as a result of these price rises. Those that had to choose between heating or lighting their homes will now choose neither.”

Dan argues that the price rises are forcing workers to pay for the Tories’ failures. “I see these price rises and the lack of effective government intervention as just another cut,” he said. “The Tories know their mates in these energy companies are making ridiculous profits. Between 2016 and 2020 Britain’s top five energy companies made £7.7 billion in profit.”

  • Join People’s Assembly protests against the soaring cost of living and in solidarity with P&O workers on Saturday. Go to  thepeoplesassembly.org.uk  
  • Read more about DPAC here

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