Rishi-eat-out-to-help-out Sunak has been busy recently trying to address the snowballing cost of living crisis faced by millions of UK citizens. He announced new policies to help those who will find the ‘struggle is too hard and the risks too great’. Amidst the quagmire of #partygate, the ‘end’ of Covid-19, Brexit and the War in Ukraine it is difficult to stay abreast of the circle of hell we are entering, so I have taken the liberty of summarising some of the fundamental elements of this current crisis.
What’s causing the crisis?
High inflation has been outstripping wages and benefit increases, resulting in a reduction in disposable income for UK households. This has been further fuelled by a huge increase in energy bills, creating a further flashpoint for the crisis. The UK energy price cap, i.e. the maximum amount a utility company can charge their average customer per year for electricity and gas, rose by 54% as of April this year. They are expected to increase by a further £800 per household in October.
Domestic budgets are being, and will continue to be stretched beyond their reasonable limits and an increasing proportion of the population will find themselves circling into debt and associated issues regarding physical and mental health, access to material resources such as food and medicine and for many, social isolation.
This nightmare is of course situated in the course of a global pandemic which continues to strip people of their livelihoods,their loved ones and their health, whether that be from the after effects of having Covid-19, or experiencing a delay in necessary treatments or preventative measures due to lockdown and pressure on the health service. The pandemic has certainly contributed to the pressure on our wallets and our combined health, as have the continued lockdowns in major manufacturing nations such as China.
Adding to the basket fire of UK household coffers is the war in Europe. Russia’s somewhat anticipated act of hostility toward the Ukraine is currently draining UK resources by way of weapons to the Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the temporary removal of visa fees for those fleeing. Fortunately, we have at least been spared Farage style vitriol about Ukrainian migration to the UK. For him, there must be something that sets apart migrants travelling from the Ukraine, from say, Eritrea or Sudan. Qwhite interesting.
What is the government’s response?
Thankfully the government have our back and will not sit idly by while we die in our thousands (unless of course it is from that airborne respiratory disease that is doing the rounds). They have engaged in a collection of actions to address the various ailments facing the health and wealth of the nation.
Firstly, they have organised a two-day long party for everyone to attend and celebrate the 70th year of HRM’s leadership. We can take to the streets and celebrate the undeniable superiority of the Windsor family and its matriarch, boasting years of extraordinary privilege and indulgence, including, but not limited to paying for a settlement for Prince Andrew, couriering a gold hat, expensive renovations and generally high standards of living.
Fortunately, the ministerial population, including the incumbent PM have been in training for this event, taking it upon themselves to risk Covid-19 infection to ensure that no one forgot how to have a party during the great lockdowns of 2020. Practice, of course, makes perfect. Significantly, our leadership remembered to include those on lower incomes by allowing some of the great unwashed to clean up their mess, and junior colleagues to pick up the booze. Frontline and NHS workers faced unimaginable strain at work, were terrified of infecting their families, and had to pass on the worst of news to families that would subsequently be unable to engage in any formal goodbyes, the last thing they needed was the additional chore of drinking wine and eating cheese.
We’re an ungrateful lot though, and a couple of naysayers have suggested that the prime minister and other central figures in UK leadership should not have been partying during lockdown. Sue Gray, a practitioner it would seem, of delayed gratification, has even written a report about it. If you can imagine, the written version of a tut and an eye roll. A benefit of this series of complaints and concerns about the goings-on at Downing Street has been a desire from its occupants to change the subject – enter the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
He has announced what is often referred to as a ‘windfall tax’, whereby the government will draw on the well-known generosity of the country’s energy companies (for a limited time only) to raise around £5bn revenue. This revenue will be used to provide targeted financial support to those who need it most including a £650 one-off payment to low-income households, £300 payments to pensioners and £150 payments to non-means tested disability benefit recipients. The Conservatives have famously been a massive support to disabled people, helping support people into employment (or death) by making welfare benefits so low, that they are impossible to live on. These lads have a sense of humour though, they also allow employers to pay so little that workers need to access welfare benefits anyway, what larks. Lastly, Sunak has revised a £200 repayable loan for bills into a £400 grant. He explained that he is on the side of hardworking families, apart from those families that were relying on the £20 uplift to Universal Credit during the height of lockdown.
Will it help?
*This whole thing is a sh*t show of greed, cronyism and disrespect aimed at the general population. Things will not get better when the leadership of a country has such a blatant disregard for the people they serve. Additional insidious harms caused by the ongoing response to the COL crisis might include, but are not limited to – further false division of deserving and undeserving recipients of welfare support, more smiling Conservatives opening foodbanks, malnourished children, poor mental health across the population, a privatised health service by the back door, satire being unable to stretch to humour, unemployment and despair.