Reeves: People struggling with cost of living a ‘reality of Tory mismanagement’

Morgan Jones
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Rachel Reeves has declared that households struggling with the cost of living is the “reality of 13 years of Tory economic mismanagement” after a survey found that a quarter of people in the UK are regularly running out of money for essentials.

The survey, published today by the Together Through This Crisis initiative, found that 24% of people are regularly unable to pay for basics, while nearly 40% of people end the month with no money left.

The research from the coalition of organisations – which includes Save the Children, Shelter and 38 Degrees – revealed that 6% of people could not pay for essentials most days, increasing to 11% in areas of high deprivation. 67% of respondents said the government was not doing enough to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The Shadow Chancellor said: “At the Budget and ahead of the next election, the question people will be asking themselves is this: are my family or I better off? The answer will be no. That nearly a quarter of households are running out of money for essentials is the reality of 13 years of Tory economic mismanagement.

“Labour would be easing the cost-of-living crisis now by bringing in a proper, one-off windfall tax on oil and gas giants to freeze bills. And, crucially, we will get our economy growing to raise living standards – with our green prosperity plan, our active partnership with business and our mission to boost skills.”

38 Degrees chief executive Matthew McGregor said: “This polling paints a bleak picture of the crisis unfolding across the country: families running out of money to put food on the table and keep kids warm is rapidly becoming our new normal.

“As the Spring Statement looms, a united message is coming through loud and clear from the British public – in the most and least deprived corners of our country – Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt: do your jobs. Stop kids going hungry, end the energy bill ticking timebomb and relieve the sickening worry from families fearing the worst.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We are providing significant support over this year and next – worth on average £3,500 per household.

“Tackling inflation is this government’s number one priority, with a plan to halve inflation this year and lay the foundations for the long-term growth that will improve living standards for everyone.”

Together Through This Crisis has written an open letter to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, which calls for the government to take several steps to respond to the crisis, including introducing universal free school meals and unfreezing housing benefit. The letter argues that the cost-of-living crisis has turned into a “catastrophe”.

The letter has been signed by a range of charities and civil society groups, including the Child Poverty Action Group and Independent Age, as well as by Labour metro mayors Tracy Brabin, Oliver Coppard, Jamie Driscoll and Steve Rotheram.

Sadiq Khan set out on Monday a plan to provide every primary school child in London with free school meals during the next academic year, which the London mayor’s office said would save families in the capital around £440 per child.

Announcing the plan, Khan said: “The cost-of-living crisis means families and children across our city are in desperate need of additional support. I have repeatedly urged the government to provide free school meals to help already stretched families, but they have simply failed to act.”

The funding for the scheme comes from additional business rates income. The mayor’s office said Khan is “clear that he is only able to provide help that should be coming from the government for one year”.

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