David Cameron’s cost-of-Christmas crisis

December 13, 2013 12:30 pm

At the Downing Street Christmas party this year, David Cameron and George Osborne will no doubt be cracking open the champagne, leaving Nick Clegg to pass round the vol-au-vents. Their sense of celebration was there for all to see at the Autumn Statement, despite the fact that they have presided over an economy for three and a half wasted years where they have failed to meet every target they set themselves, including on growth and the deficit. As a result, families are on average £1,600 a year worse off since the Government came to power.

Christmas for most people this year will be different than that taking place in Downing Street or Chequers. Many families will be cutting back as the festive period approaches. The cost-of-living-crisis is fast becoming David Cameron’s cost-of-Christmas crisis as prices rise, wages fall and families go without as they come together over the holidays.

christmas cameron

As Ed Balls has exposed, the impact has been a catastrophic clobbering of family finances. Families are not only £1,600 a year worse off, nursery costs are up 30% and, as most first-time-buyers are priced out of owning a home because of the lack of house-building, the cost of renting has risen twice as fast as wages. Despite the UK remaining the seventh richest country on the planet, at the same time as millionaires being given a tax cut by Cameron, there has been an explosion of foodbanks across Britain this year. For many people the basics are now unaffordable with Christmas treats being well out of reach.

As reported in today’s Mail online, when you load up your supermarket trolley over the festive period you will see how much the cost of Christmas has gone up under Cameron: the cost of a Turkey is up 15% since the election, potatoes up 30%, cakes up 21%, chocolate up 20% and wines and spirits up 15%.

We all agree that a growing economy which stimulates jobs, productivity and wage-growth is essential for a long-term, sustainable rise in living standards. But this isn’t what the Conservatives are delivering. Despite Osborne declaring, wrongly, at the Autumn Statement that living standards are rising, the IFS confirmed that families are worse off under this Government.

Rather than gloat, out-of-touch Ministers need to spend time around the kitchen tables of ordinary working families who are struggling to pay their bills and are nervous about the Christmas shopping.

Real action could be taken now that would make a real difference. We need more homes built, apprenticeships expanded and small firms supported by cutting not increasing business rates. There must be action to make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and a compulsory jobs guarantee for the young and the long-term unemployed – a job that if they turned down, they would lose their benefits. Instead of the Government letting the rip-off energy giants off the hook, gas and electricity bills need to be frozen to help families and small businesses across the country while long-term changes to the energy market are made to bring bills down for the long-term.

Ed Miliband said today in the Independent:

“A Labour government would build a new economy which re-establishes the connection between the success of the country as a whole and the success of Britain’s working families”.

For too many hard-pressed families Christmas will be difficult this year. As we look ahead to the New Year, we all know that Britain can do better than this.

Michael Dugher is Labour MP for Barnsley East and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

  • Holly

    You can spin it however you want.
    I do not expect the PM or Chancellor to be guilty because they might be drinking champagne. I also have no moral disgust if Miliband & Balls are drinking champaigne either.
    I have no moral outrage that any of our politicians are better off than your average joe. What I do have absolute outrage about is, politicians expenses.
    It was said that those on low incomes should not be funding child benefit for those who are better off, well why the hell should we be paying towards politicians energy bills, furniture, food, etc, etc.
    At least ‘spin’ something that is morally outragous to the many, not just the few!

  • treborc1

    My wife and I made a list last week and I made a list of how much money we could spent, her list was to spend for our weeks shopping £43 and I had saved together a total of £200 and then the dam Telephone bill came £100 so my spending will be £100 for presents.

    It will be a good year by the look of it, I’m still chasing after the missing benefits which the DWP stopped after my WCA which I won, seems the automatically think you will lose, they love to stop all the benefits phoning around councils tax offices and benefits offices , but once you win , they will not undue the mess they make.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      ‘undue’ – What the hell does that mean? Only asking

      • Hamish Dewar

        Give over Bill, you know fine what he means. LOL.

      • treborc1

        Undo, but never mind I understand where your coming from, seeking trolls does this to some labour party members.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          It’s not something that was due but then suddenly and inexplicably becomes undue then? Learn to spell ffs.

          • TomFairfax

            If that’s all you’ve got to complain about . Do you think gratuitous rudeness and deliberate obtuseness adds weight to your views or detracts from them?

          • treborc1

            For you William I will try to check my spelling mistakes, it was a mistake.

            But from now on I will proof read my comments, but it does prove what many have said that today if your working class, not to educated , or have a disability, labour and the labour party is not the party for for us.

            Say all I need to know about you as well.

          • Bik Byro

            The nitpicking troll BillFrancisOConnor strikes again because as usual he has nothing more intelligent to add to the debate

  • AB

    George Monbiot and many others on the left have said that Christmas is far too consumerist and environmentally damaging so perhaps this could just be seen as a welcome reboot of the market?

    • treborc1

      Well that’s nonsense because if the market fails it will me more shops close more people lose jobs and the country will go down again, the fact is we do live in a market economy and government of all persuasions will stick with it.

      I will not be spending a lot I do not have the money, but I hope the public spend like hell to try and get a recovery to try and keep jobs and to try and get this country going again.

  • EricBC

    You make no proposals concerning the most important need of the country -to increase the production of wealth.

    You wanna spend it without thinking about how we are to make it!

    And that is why Labour these days just does not convince. Still the party of public service unions and the party of spend spend spend. The manufacturing base and those working in industry are truly forgotten.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      ‘And that is why Labour these days just does not convince’.

      Clearly more convincing than the Tories though-

      Here’s the latest poll figures:

      http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/

      You Gov: CON 35%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.

      Populus: CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 9%.

      • Holly

        The hare & the tortoise?
        Not a huge lead, all things considered & if things are as bad as being reported.
        The thing that will focus folks minds is, will things stay as bad as being reported, for years to come?
        Some say they are bad, some say they are not as bad as other countries & some say things are getting better.
        What do most prefer to think.
        Are the majority thinking of better times or wallowing in misery?
        You are given a hand and you can either stick or twist.

        Personally we have had six years of absolute cr@p luck, Mr H is STILL on chemo(tablets forever this time) we have had one of the worse years financially EVER, in our 25 years together, yet he is still here, we are together, and we bloody well WILL enjoy Christmas!

        People & family are the root of happiness, not money, and why worry about something you do not have? Or argue about…presumably both are skint.
        Just be thankful for what you have & stop pandering over what you don’t have or can not change.

        Every year since 2006 I have made a toast with Mr H that the new year will be better, and how glad I am to see the back of the old one, trust me when I say…”I can not wait for this year to be done, and a new one to start.

        It is said your life changes every seven years, 2013 is seven years since Mr H was first diagnosed, so 2014 can NEVER be as bad as this one.
        They also say that everything happens for a reason.

        Here’s to hope.

        • Alexwilliamz

          I hope that your year is better too, and that mr h’s health improves.

      • treborc1

        So what Polls do not win elections voters do.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Yes but the point I was making was that Eric was saying that Labour ‘does not convince these days’. However, the polls suggest that at present they are more convincing than the Tories. This is self-evidently the case.

          • Holly

            That’s okay then.

  • Hamish Dewar

    I am sceptical of the claim that families are on average £1600 a year worse off.
    I believe this figure ignores the changes in taxation which have extended the zero rate of income tax beyond the 10% rate which Gordon notoriously abolished.
    As a pensioner, my income increases modestly each year.
    Not so for many people in work whose incomes have been frozen for years. That is the true scandal, against the inexorable rise in the cost of living.

    • trotters1957

      Poor people don’t pay tax, students don’t pay tax, the unemployed don’t pay tax.

      • treborc1

        Poor people do not pay tax, I like that how poor is poor these days I would say those on the min wage and they pay tax.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          I think he means the very poor- ie those earning less than £10,000 per annum.
          Just had my tax return back from my accountant- usual colossal sum.
          I’m absolutely delighted that some of it will be going in tax cuts to people who already have so much money that they couldn’t spend it in a hundred lifetimes and to companies like G4S or SERCO so that they can defraud the government and use the defrauded money to make donations to the Tory Party.

          • Bik Byro

            You have an accountant?? Trolling all day on Labour List surely does not count as a business.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Just a reminder:
            Here’s the latest poll figures:

            http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/

            You Gov: CON 35%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.

            Populus: CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 9%.

          • Hugh

            Is Labour’s lead really only a third what it was this time last year?

            Gosh.

          • Doug Smith

            Labour appears to be struggling following the upturn in the nation’s economic fortunes.

            It is difficult to see what Labour are able to offer the electorate. Now that they’ve abandoned their traditional base one must suppose they’ll attempt to be all things to all people: big business and enterprise friendly when contesting Tory held seats, taking up the LibDem community mantle in LibDem seats and delivering only shamefaced embarrassment at the betrayals they’ve perpetrated upon Labour’s taken-for-granted traditional voters in Labour heartland seats.

            Not much else they can do really.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘Labour appear to be struggling following the upturn in the nation’s economic fortunes’……..

            But not struggling as much as the Tories are though, eh?

            Opinium/Observer – CON 30%(+2), LAB 37%(+2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3)
            ComRes/Indy on Sunday – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 18%(+1)
            YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%

          • Doug Smith

            “But not struggling as much as the Tories are though, eh?”

            Only in the polls. You should keep the lid on your party popper for a while yet – favourable polls at this stage in the electoral cycle, before campaigning has commenced, are of little significance. Even if the Beer, Baccy and Cute Kittens for All Party had a 20 point lead in the polls I still wouldn’t let loose with a fusillade of champagne corks.

            Just think about what’s going to happen next year when Labour will be compelled to confront the challenge presented by Osborne in the Autumn Statement. Labour will be required to vote on setting a below inflation 1% limit on benefit increases. Labour has boasted of how it is going to be tough on benefit claimants/scroungers, now Labour politicians will have to match their words with action and back Tory policy.

            Osborne has you over a barrel.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Except that you said that Labour were struggling, which may or may not be true, but at present they aren’t struggling as much as the Tories are they?

          • Doug Smith

            Over a barrel = struggling.

          • Monkey_Bach

            “Osborne has you over a barrel.”

            Only if a majority of the British people couldn’t care less about the welfare of the less fortunate or take satisfaction in witnessing ever worsening suffering being propagated throughout society in an ever nastier, almost psychopathic, fashion to no good end. Few, if any, of the people I know, or have known throughout my life, are quite that unfeeling or oblivious.

            The danger as I see it isn’t that Labour may be cowardly and stupid enough to follow Osborne down the drain he is currently circling and on into the sewers, not that they will offer a more decent, humane, and compassionate alternative.

            I’ll let Saint Polly of Toynbee have her say:

            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/10/autumn-statement-omnishambles-labour-backbone

            Eeek.

          • Doug Smith

            ” Labour may be cowardly and stupid enough to follow Osborne down the drain he is currently circling and on into the sewers”

            Not only is Labour already following Osborne, Labour is promising to to outdo the Tories at the game they started – hence Rachel Reeves ‘tougher than the Tories’ policy statement. Reeves wants to dive deeper into the ‘sewer’ than Osborne

            If Reeves is to be taken at her word and is going to be “tougher than the Tories” and you prefer less severe treatment of benefit claimants then clearly, your best option is to vote Tory.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Reeves did say that Labour wanted to be tougher than the Tories on benefits but then led a debate in the House of Commons about the Bedroom Tax and Labour’s pledge to repeal it as soon as they were elected. I think your skewed interpretation that by “tougher” Labour means “crueller” is nonsense; as far as I can see what Reeves clumsily expressed was Labour’s tacit intention to do more than the Tories to get people into gainful employment, so that the overall benefits bill would fall, so that more people could better support themselves from their. To be honest you sound to me like a fearful Tory grasping at straws. I would challenge you to offer one single policy announcement made by Labour in respect to social security that is nastier, less enlightened, or more inhumane than any such similar announcement made by the coalition in respect to welfare.

            From my perspective you couldn’t be more wrong.

            In less than eighteen months we will discover which of us is correct or not. I don’t know yet what any of the parties would do if elected, because they have not published their manifestos yet, but if you are correct and Labour does try to ape Osborne’s policies in respect to social security, or even exceed their nastiness, then I won’t be voting Labour in the next election and nor will multitudes of the enlightened middle classes keen to live and bring up their children in a much better and more socially just society and Labour will lose.

            I really can’t see that happening as things stand.

            Not long to go now until we know what’s what.

            Eeek.

          • Doug Smith

            We’ll have to wait until whoever wins the election to find out who’s going to do what. Labour are leaving themselves open to interpretation – i.e. attempting to be all things to all people.

            My guess is that it’ll make no difference who wins – both will be the same. Though as with Blair, there’ll be more deceit from Labour simply because, like you, those who vote Labour expect less cruelty from them.

            But Iraq should put an end to that expectation – Labour are even prepared to sacrifice the lives of UK citizens on the alter of the political ambition of one leader.

            But anyway, unlike your leadership, you seem to be a decent sort. Thanks for the debate.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Live long and prosper! ‘-)

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Bl**dy hell I can’t quite believe it – Monkey as an ally against a Tory troll. Well said Monkey – now there’s something I don’t write very often.
            PS Homelessness now up 60% on last year- cardboard city is back.

          • Monkey_Bach

            And a Happy Christmas to you too, Bill.

            (Sadly rent arrears have begun to soar across the UK too. A dire situation that looks set to worsen next year for many working and non-working men, women, and families. Best that Cameron, Osborne, and rest of the Conservative crew get some Mince Pies in from Harrods to offer to the three ghosts that have been booked to visit them over the festive season. )

            Eeek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘I could never imagine any circumstances that would incline me to vote Conservative, or Liberal Democrat after witnessing the way they have behaved as junior party in the current coalition government’……….

            Nice to see the official abandonment of the lying Libs Monkey.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘For example here’s the consistently repulsive Nadhim Zahawi trying to be helpful and “start a debate” by trailing his coat about limiting child benefit:’

            Oh yeah Zahawi -the millionaire who claimed 31p for paper clips in his Parliamentary expenses return and £5,800 for energy bills at his 31 acre second home including for his riding school business.
            All essential components of the successful execution of his Parliamentary duties of course.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Yes it’s only a projected overall majority of 78 I’m afraid. Of course it should be 178 given what the shower of sh!te masquerading as Her Majesty’s government have done. But no 78 -I’ll take that.
            Actually ComRes says the lead is getting bigger ( See the figures in brackets).There were three voting intention polls in this morning’s papers, topline figures are below:

            Opinium/Observer – CON 30%(+2), LAB 37%(+2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3)
            ComRes/Indy on Sunday – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 18%(+1)
            YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%

          • treborc1

            Anyone who is self employed will have accountants I did for twenty years I worked in the building industry and sure as dam I was not well off but it paid to use an accountant.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Thanks Treborc. You are of course quite right.( Something else I don’t write very often).

          • treborc1

            But why not really do it and state anyone who is on poverty wages to day which is the min wage, after all if it was not poverty wages why would you want a living wage.

            We have had the min wage to lift people out of poverty , but ended up putting more into it, and next will be a living wage so you can just about live.

      • Steve Stubbs

        So whats VAT if not a tax, Also excise duty on petrol and diesel. The BBC TV license rip-off?

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      ‘I am sceptical of the claim that families are on average £1600 a year worse off’…….

      Why don’t you read the IFS report? They’ve factored everything in but it is an average as with all averages there are some who will be below the average and some above it.

  • Graemeyh

    “For too many hard pressed families Christmas will be difficult this year….” Too true.

  • TomFairfax

    Unfortunately some people persistently overlook the fact that someone else has to prepare and produce luxury goods, even silly and pointless bite sized, filled, pastries.

    Who do you want to shutdown first, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, or Bentley?
    Jaguar a year or so back accounted for a quarter of all UK exports to China, and would continue this even without theatrics for the cameras during DC’s visit. ( Anybody seriously thinking Jag wouldn’t supply the importers next year without DC present at the ‘signing’ ceremony is competing for a village idiot vacancy in Norfolk.)

    Yes, we need growth, and GO’s policies have contributed to stalling that for a couple of years, when he’d have achieved more by doing nothing instead of throwing sleepers in the path of those trying to grow their businesses. However, consistent and stable growth is what is needed, not someone trying to create a housing boom, again!!!!

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