Jack Monroe: Chancellor urged to tackle cost of living crisis after ‘deadly’ warning

THE SNP is urging the Chancellor to use the spring statement to provide support to tackle the cost of living crisis head-on after campaigner Jack Monroe warned that the rising cost of living would prove ” fatal” for some families in the near future.

Monroe gave evidence to the Westminster Committee for Work and Pensions on Wednesday as MPs analyzed the cost of living crisis.

The writer, journalist and food activist has made headlines in recent months with his campaign over the lack of transparency about the true impacts of inflation.

As media headlines in mid-January announced that inflation had reached a nearly 30-year high of 5.4%, Monroe called those numbers a cover-up of the “true cost.”

Monroe told MPs on Wednesday: ‘There are millions of children living in poverty in Britain today and their family situation and the financial situation of their families is already untenable and has become increasingly untenable in the world. course of the last decade.

“The impact of the cost of living crisis on these households is going to be, in some cases, fatal, and that’s not a term I use lightly.”

Jack Monroe witnessed the cost of living debate, chaired by the Work and Pensions Committee

She went on to say, “The general cost of living has increased to a point where people have less to spend on food in their household expenses… people are just eating less and skipping meals.”

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Commenting, SNP Shadow Fair Work and Employment spokesman Chris Stephens MP said below: “Households across the four UK countries are facing devastating consequences due to the cost of home crisis. life provoked by conservatives.

“Jack Monroe’s comments today should be printed and pinned to the Chancellor’s wall as a reminder of the impact his ruthless cuts have had on households.

“That’s why the SNP has urged the Chancellor to use the upcoming spring statement to deliver a comprehensive package of support that will tackle the crisis head-on.”

The National: Chris Stephens, SNP MPChris Stephens, SNP MP

“This must include turning the UK government’s £200 energy loan into a grant, reversing the cutthroat Universal Credit cut, matching the Scottish government’s game-changing Scottish Child Payment and providing a real living wage.

“If he fails to implement these measures, the Tories will once again condemn millions of households to poverty. These problems were created by an outdated and dysfunctional Conservative government – ​​it is up to them to fix them.

During the meeting, Monroe took aim at policymakers in the room on the rising tide of food banks, informal pantries and “many organizations” that have “sprung up in order to fill the void in what was once a pretty and a decent social and welfare safety net” that “is now maintained by ordinary citizens and volunteers”.

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She added: “I don’t know whose responsibility it is to carry out this investigation, but I suspect they are probably in this house.”

When asked which groups she feared most would be affected by the crisis, she said people with disabilities and children were the two most at risk.

“People with disabilities are five times more likely to be food insecure,” she said. She added that food insecurity has been linked to adverse effects later in life, such as chronic disease or mental illness; which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as people are less likely to find secure, stable work while living with a long-term illness.

Monroe has been in discussions with the Office of National Statistics about changing the way it measures inflation numbers. Monroe was asked to explain why the Consumer Price Index (CPI), used to measure inflation, does not adequately reflect the experience of people living in poverty.

She said: “It’s important because what the data doesn’t show are the real experiences of people who don’t have the luxury of non-essential discretionary spending.

“What the CPI measures is the base of the basket of household goods, for example legs of lamb, bottles of champagne, bedroom furniture. No one was looking at the base range; baked beans, spaghetti at 30p, so when these things go away it means there’s really no recourse.

“There’s no real record that they’ve ever been there in the first place. That then makes it hard to identify that a £20-a-week grocery store a few years ago is probably getting around both third of what you could get for it £20 now,” she explained.

Monroe revealed that the ONS is planning to increase the number of household items it measures to give a clearer picture of the impact of inflation on different households.

“The ONS have been very good, we had a meeting shortly after all of this [the viral tweet thread] spear. They will now measure, in their own terms, not just the price of one type of apple in the supermarket, but the price and purchase of each type of apple in each type of supermarket. »

She then discussed the issues faced by low-income tenants and those on allowances – an experience Monroe herself knows well.

“I’ve worked with an organization called Generation Rent – they’re concerned that landlords are trying to raise rents at a time when all other bills are skyrocketing.

“Tenants in theory can negotiate a rent increase or go to Property Court, but in reality that almost never happens. I’ve rented 22 properties in my short life, and several of them I was served with no fault eviction notice – Section 21 notice – no fault of mine. Some of them just didn’t want a tenant using the benefits.”

She described a “two-tier” system of discrimination in the private rental market, between what is available to people who receive housing benefit and people who receive a bit more.

“It’s become illegal for people to discriminate against people on allowances so what they’ve done is they’ve put up properties that are moldy, damp, single-glazed and quite unfit for habitation. at the rate at which housing allowance is set at for that area.

“And if you have a nice flat and you don’t want people on benefits living in your flat, you just add a hundred pounds to that. In several properties I was in, I wouldn’t keep a dog.

“And you know, now that I’ve sold a few books and have a moderate income, the whole world belongs to me. And that’s not true. Telling these people that you don’t deserve safe, clean and livable simply because of your situation.

“I think landlords need to be held accountable for the condition of their properties, and look at these two different price points and look at what’s available to renters in two completely different situations, because they’re completely different.”

Monroe was asked if there was anything the government could do to support low-income tenants.

She said: “Before, there was a top-up benefit called discretionary housing payment for people whose rent was over their housing allowance. It’s not advertised, but if you had a sympathetic local councilor telling you about it, you would write to your local council, and you could get that difference in your rent paid.

“It was discretionary and it was done on a case-by-case basis. But it was phased out about 8 years ago, and it’s very strongly evidenced with the increase in food bank use, the increase of poverty in the UK. This extra top-up was the difference between being able to pay rent and not being able to pay. When it was removed, it plunged millions of people into hardship overnight. ”

It comes as 22million customers in the UK will be hit by a huge rise in their energy bills next month – after Ofgem confirmed the record energy price cap increase of 54%.

The move would add £693 to the average annual energy bill overnight from April, and as Ofgem said: “Those who default to direct debit will see an increase of £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 a year. see an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017.”

Monroe added: “No one is asking for the moon, people just want to pay their rent and be able to feed their children.”

Julio V. Miller