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Inflation yet again hits new 30-year high as the cost of living crisis rages across the UK

Date: 23 March 2022 The annual consumer price index rate of inflation hit 6.2% adding further pressure to households already struggling to make ends meet. Measured by the retail price index, which more accurately reflects Usdaw members’ spending, is now 8.2%.
The Office for National Statistics said the largest contributors to growing inflation were increased energy bills and fuel prices. The Bank of England warns that CPI inflation could reach 8% next month, driven by the 54% rise in the energy cap that is set to come into force on 1 April and will affect 22 million households.

The result of Usdaw’s Cost of Living Survey shows how much the crisis is already affecting workers in low-paid industries, even before April’s uplift in the energy price cap and the increase in National Insurance Contributions.
  • Over three quarters of survey respondents reported they felt worse off financially than this time last year.
  • A quarter struggled to pay their gas and electric bills every month, over three times more than were this time last year.
  • Over 65% said they would significantly cut down on heating in order to cope with April’s price cap increase.
  • Over one in seven reported missing meals on a monthly basis so that they could afford to pay their bills, which is up from 5% this time last year.
  • Two thirds of workers have relied on borrowing to pay their everyday bills at some point in the past 12 months.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis says: “Low-paid workers, already struggling to make ends meet, will be heading into Spring with rocketing food and fuel prices, soaring energy bills and real wages struggling to keep pace. The planned increase to National Insurance Contributions in April will have a devastating impact on families across the UK. The Resolution Foundation has calculated that the average household will lose £1,200 during 2022.

“The Government has very deliberately started to link the cost of living crisis to the war in Ukraine. A cynical strategy to push the message that we all need to make sacrifices. However, we cannot let this kind of rhetoric deflect from the fact that the causes of this crisis, a decade of austerity, failure to regulate the energy market and stagnating wages, were already in place well before the war in Ukraine.

“Food and fuel poverty is not unavoidable. It is a political choice made by the Government, who for too long has abdicated its responsibilities to charities and food banks. This cannot be a long-term strategy. What we need is substantial action from the Government to help low-paid workers through the cost of living crisis.”

Usdaw is calling for:
  • A new deal for workers with a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour immediately.
  • Help for the lowest paid with the cost of living crisis by scrapping the NI increase and providing more assistance with rising fuel and energy costs.
  • Reform Universal Credit so that low-paid workers have a proper social security system that they can rely on.
  • Introduce a windfall tax on the huge profits of North Sea oil and gas producers and use the money to protect the most vulnerable.
  • Develop a retail recovery plan to tackle the immediate crisis on our high streets, help save jobs and tackle long-term structural issues in the retail industry.
Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.

Cost of Living Survey Over 6,500 workers completed Usdaw’s cost of living survey, following on from a similar survey in spring 2021.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion


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