'No historical parallel': Labour says Britons are facing worst ever cost of living pressures
Labour has suggested Britons are facing the worst-ever collection of pressures on their standard of living.
Referring to the UK’s cost of living crisis, which has been exacerbated further by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said he couldn’t think of an “historic parallel” to the rising living expenses people are currently enduring.
In the 12 months to January, inflation rose by 5.5%, a 30-year-high, with the Bank of England warning the inflation rate will rocket to 7.25% by April.
This is when Ofgem will raise the energy price cap, caused by record increases in global gas prices, which will see energy bills rise by an unprecedented £700.
Meanwhile, Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has added to the cost of living pressures. Russia is a major exporter of oil and gas, meaning Western economic sanctions on Putin have caused oil and gas prices to soar.
Both countries are also responsible for 30% of the world’s barley production, so the war has significantly disrupted the market.
Jason Bull, director of Yorkshire-based supplier Eurostar Commodities, told Yahoo News UK on Friday that the prices of staple foods like pasta and bread could subsequently rise 50%.
Reynolds, speaking on Times Radio on Sunday, said: “It is the worst collection of pressures I have ever seen as an MP.
“I cannot give you an historical parallel for the kind of squeeze the British public are already enduring and are about to endure.
“The first thing to say is I think clearly what is happening in Ukraine makes the pressures more acute, but we had a crisis before this began.”
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The government has previously been open about the economic impact of sanctions on Russia, with foreign secretary Liz Truss saying last month "fighting for freedom... has a very high cost for us".
"The pain that we will face in the UK is nothing like the pain that people in Ukraine are currently facing," she said.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged on Friday that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating significant economic uncertainty” and said he “will continue to monitor its impact on the UK”.
Reynolds said there needed to be a “much stronger response from the chancellor” at the spring statement, beyond the “buy now pay later” scheme to lower council tax contributions.