By Luke Patrick
As the country drags itself out of the looming shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and attempts to get back to normal life it seems the UK faces another epidemic, a cost-of-living crisis. This combined with a potential national insurance increase just over the horizon has prompted huge protests across the UK.
Marches and demonstrations have been organised by the anti-austerity organisation the People’s Assembly and supporting trade unions. The protests span Aberdeen to London as people protest the energy price cap increase that is due to come into effect on the April 1st, 2022. This would see the nation’s energy bills increase significantly.
Thousands of people across the country came together to protest the dramatic rise in the cost of living in recent weeks and months. The energy price cap will rise by 54% from the 1st of April this means that customers on default tariffs will see an average increase of £693 a year. This has been accompanied by the largest increase in inflation since March 1992, 5.4% in December 2021.
These rises are having a serious impact on ordinary people, people such as Karen Reissman
who was protesting in Manchester. Mrs Reissman said: “it’s horrible, I’ve worked in the health service for 40 years and yet I’m still having to think about whether I can afford to put my heating on and that’s just ridiculous”. Karen is just one example of someone struggling to make decisions due to rising living costs in the UK. Bernard Murphy also attended the protest in Manchester, and he talked about the impact the cost-of-living crisis was having on his co-workers. He said: “I’m okay in my personal circumstances, I’ve got fellow workers in the health service who have to use food banks, it’s getting worse and worse. It's time people started focusing on the needs of ordinary working people.”
This is only a small glimpse into the impact that these new measures will have on ordinary people across the UK. Edmund Potts who also attended the Manchester protest said: “I think what most people will feel about it is desperation.”
The People’s Assembly is urging people to download and print their flyers which outline three ways the government can slash living costs, including freezing energy prices, increasing wages and benefits, and investing in low carbon energy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures on the 3rd February 2022, including a £200 discount on all household energy bills this year to be paid back in increments.