The cost of livingTottenham MP, David Lammy urges residents to seek cost-of-living support if needed
While Boris Johnson’s partying has occupied the headlines in 2022 so far, it is the cost-of-living crisis facing my constituents that worries me most.
While most households across the UK will feel the pinch this year, families in Tottenham are being pushed toward the edge, if they aren’t already over it. Real incomes for the lowest paid 20% have been falling in recent years. The £20 a week cut to Universal Credit combined with rapid inflation, already at its highest rate since the early 1990s, will accelerate this over the coming year.
The poorest families always have to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on the essentials, with limited or no extra money for luxuries.
With the cost of basic foods, such as pasta (141%), apples (51%) and baked beans (45%), rising far faster than overall inflation over the last year, many households will simply not be able to cope.
These pressures are before we get to April when energy bills rise by an extraordinary 54%. The price cap increase will see average households paying £700 more per year.
The government’s plan to address this, most of which is only a five-year loan, is wholly inadequate.
Citizen’s Advice found that average benefits claimants spent 14% of their income on energy costs in 2002. This had risen to 18% in 2021.
It is projected to be up to 33% next month. Even after receiving government support, one in seven households will be unable to cover the cost. As ever, it will be far more than one in seven households in Tottenham.
The price rises are driven predominantly by soaring wholesale gas prices. Gas currently makes up roughly 40% of the electricity fuel mix and the UK is now in a bind. Had successive governments not failed to underinvest in the transition to renewables, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Now we are in crisis and the Conservatives are still failing to go for easy wins. A windfall tax on oil and gas company profits could be used to help pay the poorest families’ energy bills, but they just won’t do it.
It is a bleak outlook, and I am very worriedfor my constituents. I must urge everyone reading this to ensure that they take advantage of the support that is available. Get financial advice and check you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to by visiting Haringey Council’s ‘Here to Help’ page. Also visit Haringey Council’s website to apply for a council tax reduction. If you are in financial crisis, you can also apply for Haringey Council’s support fund and/or a discretionary housing payment.