The pain of soaring prices and falling wages is avoidable – and unacceptable

There is no way to mask the crippling impact a £693 rise in energy bills will have on millions of household budgets. Also, we may not forget that energy prices are not the only cost that are spiralling out of control. Food prices are rising fast. When doing their weekly shopping, people see the contents of their shopping carts shrinking while they have to pay more and more. Retail prices index (RPI) inflation is already well above 7 per cent, the figure that the lower consumer prices index (CPI) calculation — misleading as it does not include housing costs — is now predicted to hit this spring.

The British Government, which for a few months was still clapping its hands for the medical staff, now dares to turn the tap on health care, whereas we have now seen just how disastrous it is to cut back on health care.

Transport costs are up, with the government imposing the highest rise in rail fares in a decade.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s bid to sweeten the pill with a council tax rebate and an “energy bill rebate” which is actually a loan that has to be paid back don’t alter the facts: most families are going to be paying hundreds of pounds more a year.

Strangely, the Conservatives now find it necessary to withdraw the increase in universal credit, in order to get more out of workers’ pay cheques, but which deprives the least well-off of more than £900 a year.

Through the new Way to Work scheme, they are planning to slap more penalties on universal credit recipients to force them to work longer for less.

The idea that this is a government committed to “levelling up” is a sick joke. The pandemic has dramatically worsened inequality.

The Resolution Foundation found last year that the top 10 per cent of households increased their wealth by an average £50,000 while workers on furlough saw their incomes cut.
Many people tried to save some money as cover for potentially more difficult times they feared might come. But their savings are not bringing in money, but are steadily losing value, while prices are rising in the meantime.

While many big companies profited handsomely from the current pandemic and oil and gas crisis, the government is still not doing anything to tax those big earners more fairly.

Tories like Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi — a former oil industry exec himself — claim brazenly that oil and gas companies are “struggling” so should not be made to pay a windfall tax to fund relief for the rest of us.

A lot of the problems we see now with the many energy providing companies could have been avoided when they would not have been made private. With nationalised energy firms the government would have been enable to control prices. It would mean the rise in energy prices on world markets could be brought in revenues that could be directed to socially useful ends, including the insulation of homes and the development of renewables.

As John McDonnell said today, there has never been a better time to press for energy nationalisation — yet despite a Labour conference decision to support this, despite Keir Starmer having promised to support it when he stood for leader of his party, Labour now dismisses the possibility.

Only pay rises above inflation can prevent families being driven into poverty. Only public ownership and control can deliver the price controls we need to stop serious, long-term downward pressure on living standards.

These demands must be raised in every workplace and on every street.



Rising prices in Great Britain and help from the government


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Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

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