This week the government did nothing in the Queen’s Speech to help with the cost of living crisis. Let me get one thing out of the way first, no one in my constituency calls it the “cost of living crisis” – they talk about the cost of their shopping, their gas and electric bills and the general rising costs of living their lives, like travelling to hospital appointments, getting their kids uniforms and the like.
We must be careful that we don’t just get used to this terminology – “the cost of living crisis” – like a Whitehall talking point; it is real people’s lives.
So far this week the government have come up with absolutely nothing to alleviate the rising cost of food, heat, light and other staples for life, other than saying they are going to cut 91,000 jobs from the civil service to save money to put to some unknown policy that will help the cost of living crisis. It’s a great policy if you are one of the 91,000 people who are about to lose their jobs, in local job centres, prisons, border passport offices and other civil service jobs. I am sure it will make those 91,000 people feel really relaxed about the cost of living crisis.
When the Labour party suggested a windfall tax on gas and oil companies to offer money back to households to help with their heating bills, the government said it was economically illiterate, even though not even the oil and gas companies agreed with them. Instead, they have decided that the economically literate way to solve the cost of living crisis is give 91,000 families who are likely already struggling a P45 to throw on the fire for warmth.
I shouldn’t really be surprised but I haven’t noticed the government paying any attention to any of the data about who is suffering worst from rising household costs. I shouldn’t be surprised because it is women who are suffering the tightest squeeze. You, dear reader, may not know this because let’s face it, she doesn’t even pretend to do the job, but Liz Truss is the secretary of state for women and equalities as well as being the foreign secretary.
I guess there is less opportunity for fun cosplay dress up when talking about how the economic policies are forcing low-paid women and their children into poverty as there are in foreign affairs. Why do our secretaries of state feel the need to always dress up in the garb of the ordinary working people of our country when they go to visit them. I work alongside the police on weekly basis, I do ride alongs annually. Never once did I feel the need to put on a little police costume.
Liz Truss might only give something attention if she gets to dress like Geri Halliwell at a 1990s Brit awards and shroud herself in a flag; not much flag waving going on among the 42 per cent of low paid women who have reported to the Living Wage Foundation that they have fallen behind on their bills. The fact that women are more likely to be impacted by spikes in inflation because they spend a larger portion of their income on household goods like food seems not to reached Rishi Sunak’s in-tray.
I know the women in his life are not short of a bob or two but someone might mention to him that 60 per cent of all jobs paid below the real living wage are held by women. They already couldn’t make ends meet, so how the hell are they supposed to cope now? Oh what’s that I hear a Tory MP saying: they should learn to cook cheaply to save money? I’ll wager that any one of these women have dished out more cheap meals in their time than Lee Anderson has had hot dinners.
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Where is the home secretary in this fight arguing that the cost of living crisis will undoubtedly, and reportedly so by victim support agencies, be forcing women to stay in unsafe relationships? Domestic abuse victims are facing staying in dangerous homes because they simply could not afford their bills should they break free. The home secretary stands and professes that enough is enough on domestic abuse, but what economic policy has she pushed for to ensure that poverty and rising costs are not forcing women into dangerous relationships? The problem of landlords charging sex for rent, for example, is not something that a woman with lots of disposable income would be falling prey to.
The cost of living crisis is not merely a slogan. Without doubt, it is affecting pretty much every household in the country bar those in Downing Street, but if the government continue just to use it as a slogan to cut services and sack people from their jobs, and they fail to look at the details of who it is really hurting, then the solutions will be utterly useless.
Mind you, utterly useless would be better than what we have at the moment, which is absolutely nothing but more bills and expensive food and a load of ministers playing dress-up.