It is not possible to “completely nullify” the pressures on energy prices, a Cabinet minister has said, as demonstrators gather across the country over the cost-of-living crisis.
But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the Government is “looking… across the board at what we’re doing with the public’s money”, and will “put in the support that we can, as and when we can” to ease the sting of rising prices.
The People’s Assembly said it expects thousands of protesters to take to the streets in dozens of locations throughout the UK to highlight those suffering “real hardships” due to the combination of a hike in fuel and food costs, inflation and low pay.
Unions have complained that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring statement last week did nothing to allay fears about soaring fuel bills and rising inflation, with the TUC calling for an emergency budget to help families.
The lifting of the energy price cap on Friday will create an “impossible choice for many”, to eat or heat, said the People’s Assembly.
A spokesperson for the campaign group said: “Public outrage over the cost-of-living crisis is growing fast, and our response is gaining momentum.”
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Lewis said the Government cannot “completely nullify” the impacts of global pressure on energy prices, but ministers will put in supportive measures where possible.
“I know, even this week, where I live we’re on oil-fired heating, I’ve seen that change directly in the price of oil – and actually the ability to get it,” he said.
With this in mind a caller to LBC laid bare the state she has found herself in due to the cost of living crisis.
“I turned the boiler off a long time ago, and we use hot water bottles,” caller Zara told James as she fought back tears, in a frank and heartbreaking exchange.
“I’ve got jumpers on the children, my mum’s knitted socks. I’ve got a condition where I can’t regulate my body heat.
“I didn’t even want to come on James.
“I work, and they say work is supposed to pay. And I’m on tax credits for my children, my income seems to go onto the bills and council tax.”
Zara said she was being charged as a single adult for council tax, however when her son turned 18-years-old she was told “right, you pay full council tax”.
“Even if you’re working full time James, they don’t understand, for a single person, with three children,” the worried mum explained.
“I try and feed them. We have one meal a day James, they go without breakfast, and they choose too. I try and give them fruit, bananas in the morning.
“They all say ‘mum I’m fine’, but it’s the guilt I live with that I make sure I give them a meal… in the evening. I’ll eat their leftovers James, that’s the situation.”