OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: From food to fuel, housing and transport, Londoners face a cost of living crisis
When people can’t afford to eat out, they cook at home. But what if the price of food — and the cost of heating those ingredients — is prohibitive too?
The proportion of Londoners who say food is “unaffordable” has doubled since last summer, a window into the cost of living crisis gripping the capital. Nearly a quarter said buying enough to eat is a problem, according to a survey carried out by Savanta for the Centre for London. One in 10 of those polled had visited a food bank for at least some of their groceries in the past month.
Meanwhile, energy chief executives suggest up to 40 per cent of people could fall into fuel poverty from October when the energy price cap is expected to rise by several hundred pounds more. And Londoners must also contend with the spiralling cost of rent and public transport.
Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement, in which he failed to uprate benefits by inflation or properly address skyrocketing energy costs, was a missed opportunity. If the Chancellor was intending to wait until the autumn Budget, that may already be too late for millions of people.
Best wishes, Ma’am
The picture of the Queen and two fell horses released for her birthday show an exemplary woman. She has weathered the loss of her beloved husband and the usual family vicissitudes over the last year, but she is pictured with a cheerful expression and two beautiful horses who give her unalloyed pleasure. She is not just the monarch but an example of an admirably stoical generation. She is 96 today and spending her birthday at Prince Philip’s cottage. Most people in Britain have known no other head of state.
The Queen remains a kind of carapace over the nation, providing us all with an intangible sense of continuity and stability. We are lucky still to have her. Even at 96, we can only say, long may she still reign.
PM’s move now risks political pain later
In a last-ditch attempt to dissuade Conservative backbenchers from supporting a Labour motion on an inquiry into whether the Prime Minister misled MPs over partygate, Boris Johnson appears ready to make a deal. In return for their loyalty, Johnson has reportedly agreed to an investigation following the probe by the Metropolitan Police and the publication of the Sue Gray report.
Kicking the can down the road is a tried-and-tested political tactic of this administration. But it has its limits, particularly when it comes into contact with voters who cannot quite so easily be bought off.
The partygate scandal has cut through on the doorstep, particularly in London. With councillors across all 32 boroughs up for election, Conservative activists fear a backlash. Indeed, as we report in today’s paper, more than 400 Tory councillors in the capital are standing as “local Conservatives” in an apparent attempt to distance themselves from the national party.
The Prime Minister is hoping that, with the passage of time and a dose of Johnsonian charm, he can win the next general election. That too is the calculation of many of his backbenchers. But the risk is storing up political pain until later when the cost of living crisis will be worse still and voters may have already made their displeasure known.