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Martin Lewis has warned the UK is “not very far off” civil unrest amid the cost of living crisis.
Lewis, the popular TV personality who is considered one of the most trusted people in public life, made the frank suggestion as he admitted advising people how to keep warm without using their heating has made him “feel slightly sick”.
The MoneySavingExpert founder told the Sunday Telegraph he is “scared for people” as inflation continues to skyrocket.
Food bills are continually increasing, while this month’s raising of the energy price cap by Ofgem, as a result of a record increase in global gas prices, will see energy bills rise by £700 a year.
All the while, National Insurance bills have increased, while fuel prices are at a record high and rail fares have seen the biggest rise in nine years.
Lewis said he is worried about the consequences as households struggle to pay for the most basic necessities.
“We need to keep people fed,” he said. “We need to keep them warm.
“If we get this wrong right now, then we get to the point where we start to risk civil unrest.
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“When breadwinners cannot provide, anger brews and civil unrest brews – and I do not think we are very far off.
“I get all these messages from people tearing their hair out. They don’t know how to make things add up.”
Of MoneySavingExpert’s advice on how to keep warm without using heating, Lewis said: “I feel slightly sick about doing it. We are talking hot water bottles in sleeping bags territory.
“This is one of the richest countries in the world. It’s pretty desperate, isn’t it?
“It is not an exaggeration to say that there are people we have to prevent freezing or starving.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month announced a package of support including a £200 up-front rebate on energy bills from October – though this will have to be repaid over five years from 2023 – plus a £150 council tax rebate for homes in bands A to D effective this month.
However, this has been widely criticised as not going far enough - especially as Sunak also oversaw the National Insurance rises.
According to the latest UK economic outlook report from PwC, British households are set to be £900 worse off this year in a “historic fall” in living standards.
The lowest earners face a £1,300 blow to finances and the hit could be higher if the Ukraine crisis keeps escalating.
The report found inflation will hit 8.4% later this year, which will mean a 2% drop in household incomes, marking the biggest fall in real wages since the 1970s and the largest decline in living standards since records began.