Ian Lavery column: Government can take steps to support families in need

Despite months of warnings about the cost of living crisis and now the stark reality of how bad it already is, and it will get worse, some on the Government benches still insist that this is not as bad an issue as we think.

By Ian Lavery, Wansbeck MP
Friday, 20th May 2022, 6:00 am
The Trussell Trust has also reported an increase in demand at its food banks in Northumberland. Picture by Peter Summers/Getty Images.
The Trussell Trust has also reported an increase in demand at its food banks in Northumberland. Picture by Peter Summers/Getty Images.

In fact, some even deny it exists. They believe if working people would simply bother themselves to learn how to cook in batch for 30p a meal, then all of this would go away.

People in this country are facing a 30-year high decade of inflation while wages have stagnated, a failed NHS and social care system and crumbling public services.

This cost of living crisis is not their fault, but the fault of this Government not doing enough to protect the most financially vulnerable – who, as usual, will be the ones who suffer the most. Food banks in my constituency of Wansbeck report record levels of demand, but faltering supply as people no longer have the means to donate.

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The Government must take responsibility for the rapid increase in food poverty in my constituency and hundreds of others across the country that has happened under its watch.

Even if it were possible to eat for 30p a day on freshly cooked food every night, which it is clear it is not, why would we be happy with that for the people of this country? This is certainly not the attitude I would expect from the so called patriotic party towards their own people.

If those on the Government benches truly think this, then it seems that they have completely given up on actually improving the lives of ordinary people and are engaged in a managed decline and brutal race to the bottom.

Things did not end well for Marie Antoinette when she shrugged off the problems facing the French peasantry by suggesting they eat cake, and nor will they end well for the Conservative Party, or indeed any political party, if they do the same.

This cost of living crisis is a political crisis. There are a number of straightforward steps this Government could take to alleviate the pressure on millions of families, including introducing an immediate windfall tax backed up with a wealth tax, reinstating the £20 Universal Credit uplift and raising other benefits in line with inflation for a start.