Welcome to Britain, where profits take precedence over living standards. On February 3, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced mitigation measures to address a snowballing energy crisis threatening the livelihoods of millions of people in the UK. As announced by energy regulator Ofgem, energy bills would skyrocket £693 per year from April ‘Dishi Rishi’ announced meager £350 aid package for households, which he saw as a surprisingly generous move “spike” from increasing energy cuts.
In France it is Government has limited energy bill hikes to 4%, forcing the state-owned energy company to absorb a £7bn depreciation to protect its citizens from rising costs. In Norway it is Parliament has voted subsidize household electricity bills. In Britain, instead, we are presented with … the Wonga government.
If we ever needed proof of how out of touch the Tories are, introducing ‘loans’ to pay energy bills would make it possible. The Chancellor proudly announced that all budgets would receive £200 discount their energy bills in October – with the proviso that they would then have to repay the rebate at £40 a year over five years from 2023. In a world of innovation and opportunity, the Tories are giving us… payday loans. And with energy bills being decided by the market based on last year’s prices, the Tories will demand repayments if families are still grappling with the massive hikes.
Of course, we are not only in the middle of an energy crisis; Meanwhile, the realization is filtering through that a general cost-of-living crisis is in full swing. For millions life becomes very very hard, extremely fast. Municipalities increase their tax burden by around 4.4% per year as they struggle to fund community services. Consumers can expect to be paid £180 more average this year for their food than 2021.
Meanwhile, the Bank of England announced that UK interest rates would double 0.25% to 0.5%while Social Security – which is automatically deducted from your pay package – is meant to be increased by 1.25% to fund the health and welfare crisis – a crisis the Tories themselves created. Then there’s what’s called ‘Secret tax hike for student loans. All this is happening against the background of stagnant wages. And these deadly measures will have consequences: millions will no longer be able to afford to live, period.
On the same day that Sunak presented his sad excuse of a lifeline to the British public, oil company Shell boasted one “meaningful” 14-fold increase in its profits to £12bn. In 2021 it was unveiled they had failed be taxed at all on North Sea oil and gas profits for three years. Exxon Mobil, another fossil-fuel giant, had its most profitable year in seven years in 2021 after receiving Subsidies worth £360m by the British government. And on Tuesday ministers voted to give bankers a tax cut worth £1 billion a year.
There is nothing inevitable about the cost of living crisis. Nearly £9bn PSA and £4.3bn in Covid-19 fraud are written off. Still, the Tories, of course, claim it is so no “magic money tree”. The cost of living crisis is a matter of political choice. Letting gas prices rise — and refusing to raise taxes for energy companies that make billions for their shareholders — ultimately fuels energy company profits and pushes millions into energy poverty. The message – that everything will cost more, but we will all earn less – is the inevitable culmination of a political agenda that openly disregards the vulnerable.
“Meanwhile, the realization is trickling in that a general cost-of-living crisis is underway. For millions life becomes very very hard, extremely fast”
It’s no surprise that increases in the cost of living will hit minorities and vulnerable communities hardest. A study last year found that people of Black and ethnic minority heritage are among several groups that are disproportionately affected high cost of living, because of the likelihood of being hit by the “poverty premium,” and because people of color are overrepresented in lower-paying, less secure jobs. People of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background are over three times as likely than white people live in the lowest income 10% of neighborhoods, while black women do least likely to be one of the top earners in Great Britain.
Feigned public concern and hung up Replace #11 with #10Sunak announced measures that will make life unaffordable for millions. Model by the New Economic Foundation says the poorest 10% of families will still be £450 a year worse off after the alleged tax refund in April. In fact, Sunak summed up the issue himself and pointed out how the £350 provision will go help “the vast majority of households”.
But if it’s not even enough for the vast majority (taking the average family at an additional cost of £1,096 per year), disadvantaged communities will struggle on an unfathomable level. The most disadvantaged communities, which leave households in abject poverty when choosing between heating or eating, have been left out of the equation entirely, with Sunak cutting costs universal credit increase months before.
The Tories once announced themselves as a ‘strong and stable’ Party. They still openly accept the myth that they are the only responsible trustees of the economy – and write The sun yesterday Rishi Sunak said the Tories had “always been the party of sound money”. But the math doesn’t add up. under the Tories, one of three children live in child poverty today, 700,000 more since 2012. Even in 2019, before the pandemic, a fifth of the population lived in extreme poverty, which warranted a UN special investigation.
At the end of Covid-19 it looks like it’s going to be a lot, a lot worse, and the ‘solutions’ proposed by the supposed economic prodigies will only exacerbate the problems in the long run as millions suffer Victorian levels of deprivation. But at least big companies will see their profits protected. As an author put it: “The problem with relentlessly and ceaselessly accumulating wealth is that eventually you run out of other people to extract capital from.”
“The message – that everything will cost more, but we will all earn less – is the inevitable culmination of a political agenda that openly disregards the vulnerable.”
The Tories are not preservers of the economy – they are preserving themselves, having stayed in government for 11 years. Exploiting a combination of weariness and complacency, the government unleashes deadly measures on a weary populace. It’s depressingly ironic that this crisis is coming to a head in the same week as this one ‘level up’ White Paper, a conservative fantasy that promised no new means to achieve its goals.
The Tories cannot be trusted with the economy. There is a national cost of living crisis in one of the richest nations on earth. Read that again. We are on the verge of the greatest decline in living standards since comparable records began. A chancellor Worth £200m — the richest man in the House of Commons — is enforcing policies that line the pockets of investors, not those who need them. So maybe at some point we should stop keeping millionaires too busy with the construction of tennis courts to construct public order. The myth that the Tories are the party of business has long since disintegrated. This crisis cemented it. But if we do nothing, it will still be the public that has to pay the price.