Experts have been left despairing by the cost-of-living crisis, with two household names revealing their frustration at Boris Johnson for the latest hike in energy bills, which will push millions into poverty.
The government lifted the cap on energy bills on Friday, increasing the average household’s annual payments by £700. It is the largest increase since the price cap was introduced. The number of households in England in food poverty is set to double to five million people as a result.
The dire situation has left anti-poverty Jack Monroe and Martin Lewis, the personal finance expert, at a loss.
‘At the brink’
A visibly emotional Monroe told ITV on Friday that “people are at the brink”. They said: “It all boils down to the fact that people don’t have the basic income to meet their most basic and fundamental needs.”
They added that “it’s a crisis that has been building for the last decade” – and financial aid, rather than government platitudes, is required.
“It’s getting increasingly difficult to give tips and advice because people are at the brink,” Monroe said.
“We’re one of the richest economies in the world, people shouldn’t have to be scrabbling around for these war-time tips in order to live a decent standard of living.”
Monroe later tweeted: “If I seemed a bit strung out on Lorraine this morning it’s because I am.” They said that, in a decade of anti-poverty campaigning, they “have never known the scale of sheer desperation and terror that is bombarding my inboxes daily from people worried they can’t survive this crisis”.
They added: “That’s not an exaggeration; people with disabilities, people on Universal Credit, people on low wages and zero hour contracts and underemployed in insecure part time jobs, people living alone, elderly people, all literally petrified about their immediate futures.”
Most people “are doing everything they can think of”, they said, including “the most absurdly unthinkable things”.
Claiming that they’re “almost out of hope”, they added: “I’m beyond irritated at the lack of compassion and accountability shown by those who made this happen and have the power to stop it, but are choosing not to.”
Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, also expressed his concerns about the crisis. Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, he said: “I think the anxiety and level of sick[ness] I feel in my stomach…no-one could have my mail bag and not feel sick at the moment.”
He added: “I think the only time I can remember is the week of the pandemic before furlough was announced. When we had no certainty and there was no help… that level of panic.
“And I feel that, for the lowest-earners in society, we’re back to that. The difference is I’m not sure where the help is coming from.
“We’ve certainly never experienced anything like this before.”