Tory cost of living crisis: what it means in our daily lives

The impact of the Tory cost-of-living crisis reaches far and wide, but it’s disproportionately impacting the poorest, most vulnerable members of society.

Here’s what it all means.

Rising energy prices

In the 2014 referendum and the 2016 Brexit referendum, the Tories promised cheaper energy bills.

But between 2015 and 2019 alone, energy prices rose by 40% – and from April 2022, average household energy bills have skyrocketed by almost £700.

Citizens Advice Scotland found that one in three Scots find energy bills unaffordable – and shamefully, almost half a million people in Scotland have had to choose between heating and eating.

And Rishi Sunak’s response is simply a Tory con trick – instead of a discount or a grant to protect people from skyrocketing bills, he has merely introduced a £200 ‘buy now pay later’ loan.

It doesn’t even come to close to mitigating rising energy prices – let alone the cumulative impact of Tory cuts, Brexit and tax hikes on working people.

Rising food prices

In January 2022, inflation rose to 5.4%, the highest it has been in almost 30 years since March 1992. Experts now expect inflation to hit 7% this year.

Campaigner and journalist Jack Monroe, in her viral Twitter thread, noted how the large price increases for household essentials – some of them over 100% in the space of a year – hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest.

  • Last year, the cheapest rice in one of the Big Four supermarkets was 45p for a kilogram bag. Today it’s £1 for 500g. That’s a 344% price increase.
  • Baked beans: were 22p, now 32p. 45% price increase.
  • Canned spaghetti: was 13p, now 35p. 169% price increase.
  • Bread: was 45p, now 58p. 29% price increase.
  • Curry sauce: was 30p, now 89p. 196% price increase.

And alarmingly, the “worst is still to come” for food price rises, as Tesco’s boss John Allan told the BBC – estimating supermarket prices could rise by around 5% by the spring.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “It is inevitable that retail prices will continue to follow in the future.”

The cost of Tory Brexit

People, businesses and communities are paying a heavy price for a hard Brexit we never voted for, imposed by a Tory government we never voted for.

Research shows that the average cost of Brexit per person has been around £480 so far – with at least a further £720 hit coming down the tracks.

And for all the economic disruption caused by Covid, the OBR – the UK government’s own financial body – predicts Brexit hits the economy twice as hard.

Tory cuts: only making the problem worse

Despite the rapidly rising living costs under the Tories’ watch, the UK government ploughed ahead with a cruel £20/week cut to Universal Credit.

The move was the biggest cut to social security since World War Two – and slashed the incomes of over 480,000 families in Scotland overnight.

On top of all the pain caused by 11 years of Tory austerity, the Trussell Trust revealed that the scale of hardship caused by the Universal Credit cut, causing an estimated 1.2 million people to go hungry across the UK.

Tory austerity: slammed by the UN

The UN rapporteur on extreme poverty has called the Universal Credit cut “unconscionable”, adding that it effectively breaks human rights law.

Another UN figure, Prof. Philip Alston, accused the UK government of “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population” – while praising Scotland for taking a different approach.

Scotland is taking a different path on social security, despite limited powers

The Scottish Government is already protecting the people of Scotland from some aspects of UK austerity – for example, through mitigating the Tory bedroom tax.

With one hand tied behind its back, the Scottish Government has introduced a new social security system – with 11 new benefits such as the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, the only benefit of its kind in the UK.

However, around 85% of welfare expenditure remains reserved to Westminster – and damaging Tory policies like the Universal Credit undermine the progress we deliver in Scotland.

Here’s what the Tories must do now to tackle the crisis of their own making

To boost household incomes and reverse the rising levels of poverty, here’s what Rishi Sunak must urgently do:

  • Launch a multi-billion pound Brexit Recovery Fund to compensate the growing cost of Brexit.
  • Turn the £200 loan into a grant.
  • Roll out a £20 per-week Child Payment across the UK – mirroring Scotland’s “game-changing” policy.
  • Reinstate the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit.
  • Introduce a Real Living Wage.
  • Scrap the abhorrent rape clause, the benefits cap and the punitive sanctions regime.

Tory MPs are too distracted by trying to save Boris Johnson – it’s time to deal with the real issues

More and more people are beginning to see that Westminster is utterly out of touch with the everyday struggles of people across Scotland – and the UK government doesn’t have any solutions for the cost of living crisis they’ve created.

Inflation is rising. Costs are soaring. Hard-pressed families are struggling because of Tory cuts.

It’s time the Tories stop focusing on saving Boris Johnson’s skin, and get on with the day job of helping families.