A protest over the cost of living crisis in April 2022 (Picture: Alisdare Hickson)
The cost of living crisis has not gone away. Although RPI inflation now sits at 5.2 percent, down from 13.4 percent a year ago, prices of food, gas and electricity are still causing mass hardship.
More than two million people with a prepayment meter could have their gas and electricity cut off this winter because they cannot afford to top up, according to Citizens Advice.
That’s two million people left in the cold, unable to have a shower or cook food because they are too poor. The warning comes just as energy suppliers have been allowed to restart forced installations of prepayment meters.
More than five million people now live in households that are in debt to their energy supplier. This means they are at risk of being forced onto pre-payment meters.
Almost three million people skipped meals, cut back on food or sold possessions in the last year to keep their meter topped up.
And households with children under four were twice as likely to be forced to disconnect from their gas and electricity. Disabled people are also hit particularly hard.
It’s a terrible charge sheet against the Tories. But don’t pin your hopes on Labour to bring real change. Instead Keir Starmer is warming up old Tory ideas for his general election manifesto.
In a speech at the Civil Society Summit to faith, charity and community leaders, Starmer looked to dump more responsibility on charities.
Mirroring Tory David Cameron’s 2010 “Big Society” pledge, he said, “Cameron talked about the Big Society. A great idea, in principle.
“But when austerity kicked in, we ended up with the Poor Society. Now we need a new vision for a new era. A renewed social contract. A Society of Service.”
The “do it yourself” attitude means Starmer’s Labour doesn’t have to bother itself with providing essential services.
Instead, it can focus on cost cutting. In an exclusive interview with the right wing Sun newspaper, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting vowed to skim £10 billion off the NHS.
“You can’t just keep on pouring ever increasing amounts of money into a leaky bucket, you’ve got to deal with the bucket itself,” Streeting said.
He pledged to cut spending on postage stamps and outside management consultants, and to end the missed appointments “scandal”, plus the increased use of A&E. He added this to his previous opposition to health workers’ pay claims.
While the poor suffer at the hands of the Tories, it’s clear that Labour’s priority is stamping on the left in the party and showing that it will deliver for the corporations.