Martin Lewis warns of 'civil unrest' as cost-of-living crisis hits millions

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Martin Lewis
Martin Lewis has urged Boris Johnson to address the crisis. (PA)

Martin Lewis has warned of ‘civil unrest’ if the government does not do more to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.

Households are struggling under the weight of rising energy and food prices that are pushing inflation to a higher rate than at any point in more than a generation.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Consumer Prices Index inflation rose to a 40-year high of 9% in the year to April, up from an already high 7% in March.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston, Lewis said the current crisis is a “political problem”, urging MPs to act ahead of further price rises later this year.

He said: “We should be pleading with the government right now to put some money in people’s pockets.

“The public mood is desperate, it’s angry and we may well be moving, when those bill rises come in October to £2,600 in the middle of winter, I worry about civil unrest.

Martin Lewis told ITV's Peston that the public mood is 'desperate and angry'. (ITV)
Martin Lewis told ITV's Peston that the public mood is 'desperate and angry'. (ITV)

“So the government need to get a handle on it. And they need to get a handle on it quickly, they need to listen and they need to stop people making choices of whether they feed themselves or feed their children.

“We used to have a relative poverty position in this country and we are moving to absolute poverty.”

Lewis told Peston his “great hope” was Boris Johnson, who he described as an “instinctive, populist politician who can see what’s going on”.

But he reaffirmed his advice to make sure “there is money and it is put in people’s pockets” by increasing Universal Credit and improving the eligibility for the warm homes discount.

Watch: Starmer: Government windfall tax U-turn inevitable, get on with it

The prime minister faces increasing pressure to do more to help people’s finances – including from Tory MPs who have demanded tax cuts and an early support package, currently touted to be announced over the summer.

It comes as Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for an emergency budget was defeated by 312 votes to 229 on Wednesday.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves had earlier branded the government “out of touch” and “out of ideas” as she called for the emergency budget to help struggling households.

She added: “We need an emergency budget with a windfall tax to keep energy bills down. We need a government that takes growth seriously.”

Tory MPs have demanded that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak cut taxes to alleviate the cost of living crisis. (Reuters)

While inflation rose to 9% on Wednesday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) economic think tank suggested the poorest households might actually be facing inflation of 10.9%.

This is higher than average because they spend a larger portion of their money on heating and lighting their homes.

Heidi Karjalainen, a research economist at the IFS, said: “We are likely to be in a prolonged period during which poorer households are facing rates of inflation even higher than the headline figures would suggest.”

Calls are also mounting for Rishi Sunak to take urgent action on the cost of living crisis. The chancellor said in a speech to the CBI on Wednesday evening that he stands ready to do more to help families cope with the impact of rising inflation.

Rishi Sunak speaking at the CBI annual dinner at the Brewery in London. Picture date: Wednesday May 18, 2022.
Rishi Sunak told the CBI annual dinner that the next few months will be 'tough'. (PA)

He spoke of a “perfect storm” of supply shocks rocking Britain, warning that “the next few months will be tough”.

Sunak said he will cut taxes for businesses in the autumn Budget but warned that it would not be “easy” to put money back in the pockets of families across the UK.

He added: “The next few months will be tough, but where we can act, we will…

“I hardly need to tell this audience that the economic situation is extremely serious.”

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