The UK is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis - one fuelled by years of Westminster austerity, the pandemic and by a disastrous Tory Brexit. So why aren't the Tories doing something to ease the burden on households and - worse still - why are they actively working to make things tougher for millions?
Over the course of the pandemic, millions of people found themselves having to rely on the UK's social security system — many for the first time in their lives. The UK already lags behind many developed countries when it comes to financial support for those seeking employment and the temporary £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit became a lifeline for those who needed it.
Having ignored calls from opposition politicians, the third sector, independent experts and civic society to maintain this uplifted rate of Universal Credit, Rishi Sunak carried on regardless with his cruel cut, with devastating consequences.
This BBC News report shows the reality of Tory Britain.— David Linden MP (@DavidLinden) December 22, 2021
✂️ The £20 cut to #UniversalCredit, coupled with a sharp rise in inflation, has led to a huge surge in demand for food banks.
People should not have to choose between heating and eating in 2021. pic.twitter.com/tu4tAvP3he
Now the DWP is continuing its unfair targeting of those on Universal Credit with a new sanctions regime. Those who have not found suitable employment in the first four weeks of searching will be expected to take any job in any field or face having their meagre Universal Credit payment halted.
'The irony is, people won't even have got their first payment before this kicks in.'— LBC (@LBC) January 27, 2022
The Universal Credit change forcing recipients to look outside their chosen field after four weeks is 'unfair to jobseekers', argues the University of Glasgow's Dr David Webster.@eddiemair pic.twitter.com/XGXgnhxrME
Glasgow University academic Dr David Webster, seen in the video above, has slammed the DWP for refusing to make public its own 2019 report into benefit sanctions — despite promising to do so. The UK Government knows that sanctions are ineffective, causing nothing but hardship and suffering, yet they refuse to admit it.
We've also had confirmation over the weekend through press reports that the Chancellor will now press ahead with the National Insurance hike; one that breaks the commitment made by the Tories at the last general election that they made a "promise not to raise the rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT".
This manifesto-breaching policy which is essentially a stealth tax will see people pay in excess of 10% more in national Insurance contributions from April, putting a further squeeze on household budgets and negating annual pay rises.
Even the right-wing conservative think-tank Bright Blue has called on the Chancellor to stop targeting workers and instead to shift the burden of tax from work to wealth. It's a mystery why multi-millionaire Rish Sunak isn't doing exactly that…
The Conservative government in Westminster have sought to brush off escalating costs as something beyond their control but it is an inescapable truth that Brexit has been a major factor in our current predicament.
As Tories took to Twitter yesterday to 'celebrate' the second anniversary of Brexit, the cold reality of the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union is obvious.
The chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility warned last year that the impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse in the long run compared to the coronavirus pandemic, reducing the UK's potential GDP by about 4%.
The figures are stark. Almost a year from the first anniversary of the end of the transition period, Bloomberg reported at the end of last year with a damning verdict. Brexit has 'thumped' our economy.
And of course, Scotland is suffering the consequences of this hard Tory Brexit, despite overwhelmingly voting to remain in the EU. Amid rising inflation, Brexit has further pushed up prices on Scottish supermarket shelves. The SNP has been warning of this for quite some time now, but the Tory government at Westminster hasn't wanted to listen.
Food blogger Jack Monroe has been leading a successful campaign recently to get the UK's statistical body to rethink how it measures the cost of living. She has also been highlighting the significant changes in the cost of basic food items.
'Once those staples become out of the reach of ordinary people, then you're losing a significant proportion of your daily calories.'— Lorraine (@lorraine) January 24, 2022
Food blogger @BootstrapCook explains how the rise in the cost of living is 'affecting everybody' especially the 'people who have no other option'. pic.twitter.com/yWzxLhzXPI
Compared to this time last year, here are some of the price rises in my local supermarkert here in the East end of Glasgow:
In 2020-2021, 2.5million people turned to food banks because they couldn't feed themselves or their families. That's 600,000 more than the year before, and that figure will only rise further.
Perhaps the most worrying price rise at the minute is the spiralling cost of energy and fuel. I'm already starting to see some really troubling signs that people in Glasgow East are struggling to afford to heat their homes — an issue I spoke about in the latest episode of my East End Ears podcast and which the Glasgow Times newspaper then reported on.
Once again, the UK Government is missing in action. Rishi Sunak is more concerned with his preparations for a run at the Tory leadership contest and is failing to do the day job of Chancellor. Meanwhile, millions worry that they will have to choose between heating and eating.
The UK Government has form in treating pensioners appallingly, something evident through the disgraceful way that the WASPI women have been ignored and abandoned.
The Tories were warned last year of the impact of their manifesto-breaking plan to scrap the pension triple lock, yet recklessly went ahead with it.
👛 By scrapping the triple lock on pensions, this Tory government has broken yet another manifesto commitment.— David Linden MP (@DavidLinden) September 7, 2021
📈 Pensioner poverty is already at a 15 year high under Boris Johnson’s watch, and it will only be exacerbated with this betrayal. pic.twitter.com/TwwgQLev83
Last year, UK pensioner poverty levels rose to a 15 year high - with 2.1million UK pensioners (18%) living in poverty after housing costs, an increase of 200,000 on 2018/19.
A decade of Tory austerity cuts, coupled with one of the worst state pensions in the developed world, means that millions of our older people are already living in poverty. Scrapping the triple lock was another hammer blow for pensioners from the UK Government.
🔓 Pension triple lock broken 🔓— David Linden MP (@DavidLinden) September 21, 2021
Why does that matter? What does this mean for pensioners? I've written a piece for my website about the latest Tory betrayal 👇🏻https://t.co/EmrJs2Psot
As the cost-of-living escalates, pensioners are really feeling the impact. The Tory Government at Westminster have been warned but they just don't care.
Being tied to UK Tory governments is costing us dear, and we all pay the price.— The SNP (@theSNP) January 28, 2022
⬆️ Rising energy bills.
⬆️ Rising food prices.
⬆️ Rising taxes on working people.
✂️ Cuts to pensions and Universal Credit.
📉 Economy hammered by Brexit.
Let's choose a better future. pic.twitter.com/0c5wjhB9ij
Scotland is dealing with the fallout of a Brexit it rejected which was delivered by a Tory government it didn't vote for. In 2014, we were promised a 'Union dividend' if we voted against Scottish independence. What we're seeing now is the real dividend — increased costs, rising taxes, more austerity and the economic devastation of being part of Little Britain.
We can do better than this. Yes, an independent Scotland would face tough decisions like every other small, independent nation on the planet. But they would be our decisions to make and we would have the opportunity to make the best decisions for the people who live and work here, not based on what Tory party donors want.
🤦🏼 Scotland hasn't voted Tory since 1955 - yet we keep getting Tory UK governments.— Yes (@YesScot) January 24, 2022
💷 From Brexit to the cost of living crisis, we all pay the price for their damaging policies that we never chose.
🏴 Choose a better path with Scottish independence. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/9ks7J1hQiA
The latest episode of my East End Ears podcast covers the cost-of-living crisis and is available on all major podcasting plaforms. Visit the page below to find yours and subscribe.