The cost of living has been rising faster than it has for decades at a time when many are struggling more than ever. In the last year, gas prices have risen by 28% and electricity by 19%, and that’s before the recent price rises came into effect on April 1st. Food prices are rising, Metro fares and council tax have just risen and house prices are rising steadily. Despite the increased costs that we’re all facing, wages haven’t increased in line with the increased cost of living.
As ever, it’s those on the lowest incomes who will bear the brunt of the price rises. They spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials like food, fuel and energy, but they’ve got the least leeway to be able to cope with these rises. Next year, it’s estimated that an extra 1.3 million people will fall into absolute poverty, including half a million children. More people than ever will have to choose between heating and eating.
The anxiety and stress caused by these rises will have a profound effect; people’s mental health will suffer and existing physical health conditions will be exacerbated. If people are forced to go hungry or not put their heating on when it’s needed, their health will be affected. The poorest and most vulnerable in our society will suffer disproportionately.
It’s imperative that the government put sufficient effort into tackling the cost of living crisis as they’re neglecting those who are most at risk. They have a range of options available to them to help those who need it, such as protecting the poorest by upgrading benefits and increasing taxes for the highest earners. Implementing the Green Party to introduce Universal Basic Income to every resident would lead to an increase in people’s quality of life. The Green Party would scrapy Universal Credit and the cruel sanctions regime, which pushes people further into poverty.
Poverty is a political choice. Only the Green Party has the policies and ambition to tackle poverty head-on and our approach is based on real social security. A guaranteed minimum income for every UK resident would transform all of our lives. For too long, the Conservative government has targeted and demonised people who face unemployment, disability and low incomes as the scapegoats of austerity. We need a government that protects the interests of everyone, not just the most privileged in society.
Green Party campaigner Tay Pitman spoke at Saturday’s ‘Cost of Living’ rally, which was held by The People’s Assembly at Grey’s Monument. She urged the government to address the cost of living crisis and take steps to ensure that nobody is pushed further into poverty.
She said “on May 5th, use your vote wisely and vote for those who will stand up for you and prioritise your needs, not those of big business and the elite”.