Wednesday, 6 July 2022

The cost of living crisis, solidarity and the Stadium

My article in today’s Cornish Guardian newspaper covers three subjects. It is as follows:

1. The latest report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation makes for very hard reading. Titled “Not heating, eating or meeting bills: managing a cost of living crisis on a low income,” the new research demonstrates the “precarious position of the worst-off 40% of households.”

The Foundation considers that the packages of support put in place by the UK Government do “not go far enough to support those who came into this crisis in a tough financial position.” It has stated that, for many families, the payments “will barely touch the sides, let alone help prepare for the winter that is coming.”

The findings show that “some seven million low-income households” have been “going without at least one essential (such as a warm home, enough food, appropriate clothing or basic toiletries)” while over two million families were “neither eating properly nor heating their homes adequately.” The seriousness of the cost of living crisis is further shown by the statistic that 4.6 million households are “in arrears with at least one bill, with the average amount owed around £1,600.” Significantly, the report adds that almost all families on means tested benefits are having “repayments for certain types of debt taken directly from benefits” and 93% of these are going without “at least one essential.”

The shocking evidence in the JRF report sends a clear message to central government that their priority should be the less-well-off in UK society.

2. Interestingly, the Economics Editor of the Guardian, Larry Elliot, recently wrote how “two years ago Rishi Sunak stood outside 11 Downing Street” flanked by the TUC and the CBI. He noted that the “photo op was meant to demonstrate a new spirit of tripartite solidarity” during the pandemic. Sadly, I share Elliot’s view that the “spirit of consensus has departed” as shown by the UK Government’s approach to the industrial dispute with rail workers, which has been revert to “union bashing” – rather than seeking to reach out at this time of crisis.

3. As a Cornwall Councillor, I would like to disassociate myself from the decision of the Conservative administration to stop seeking funding for the Stadium for Cornwall. I don’t think the excuses, about business cases or the nature of “Levelling Up” funding, stand up to scrutiny. I was a candidate in the 2015 General Election and I recall the day when the Tories announced they would fund the Stadium. There were no caveats or conditions, just a straight-forward pledge to voters. By not delivering on that promise, it will forever be remembered as a cynical ploy to harvest votes, and nothing more.

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