People ‘stealing soap and sanitary products’ because of cost-of-living crisis

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·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
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File photo dated 15/10/21 of shoppers in a supermarket. Shop prices are up 2.7% on last year marking their highest rate of inflation since September 2011, figures show. The impact of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April's retail prices, with no sign of them abating, according to the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index. Issue date: Wednesday May 4, 2022.
Food, energy and petrol costs have driven inflation to a 40-year high of 9%. (PA)

People are stealing everyday items as they struggle financially due to the cost-of-living crisis, a Labour MP has warned.

Ian Lavery said his constituents had resorted to stealing sanitary products and washing powder in an effort to get vital products they need.

The representative for Wansbeck said: “We’ve got people missing meals to feed their kids, we’ve got 2.5 million people now using food banks for heaven’s sake.

“I’ll tell you what’s new in my constituency – that’s a rise in crime and shoplifting.

“We’ve got people who are desperate to keep their kids clean stealing products, are stealing sanitary products, are stealing soap powder."

Addressing the Conservative front bench, he continued: “This is an absolute outrage and it isn’t good enough to say the support is here, mind. It isn’t good enough to abdicate your responsibility, saying ‘we’ve done this and that and £150 and a pay-as-you-go loan for electricity’.

“It’s abdicating your responsibility for people in most need."

Read more: Some of my constituents have attempted suicide amid cost of living crisis, MP says

Watch: Inflation hits 40-year high of 9%

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics confirmed inflation had risen to a 40-year high of 9% as rising food, energy and fuel prices, coupled with the war in Ukraine, take their toll on the UK's economic landscape.

Families across Britain are creaking under financial strain, with one-in-four saying they are skipping meals to save money.

A recent survey showed that two in three people have been turning off their heating, almost half are driving less or changing supermarkets in a bid to stretch their pennies further.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls from business groups, charities and opposition politicians to cut taxes or increase state support for firms and households struggling to cope with rising prices.

One of the measures being introduced was a £150 council tax rebate to offset soaring energy bills following the energy price cap being increased by 54%.

Read more: UK inflation hits 40-year high of 9% as cost of living squeeze intensifies

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 23 File photo dated 31/07/18 of a smart meter next to an energy bill, as more than eight in ten Scots are worried about the soaring costs of energy on household budgets despite measures designed to take the sting out of the cost of living crisis.
Energy costs have risen since the prince cap went up by 54%. (PA)

But fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) said struggling families are facing a "postcode lottery" for the rebates.

Consumer Prices Index inflation soared to 9% in the year to April, up from 7% in March, the ONS said on Wednesday.

It was the fastest measured rate since records began in 1989, and the ONS estimates it was the highest since 1982.

The Bank of England has a mandate to keep inflation below 2%, but Governor Andrew Bailey has admitted to being helpless in the face of global pressures including a spike in energy costs and the war in Ukraine.

Supply chains were already stretched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pressure was further increased following repeated lockdowns in China and Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

This has trickled into household bills, with Ofgem lifting the price cap on energy bills by 54% in April and the Bank of England (BoE) now sees a further 40% increase in October.

Watch: Five ways the cost of living crisis could be eased

Around three-quarters of the increase in the annual inflation rate this month came from utility bills, according to Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS.

Motor fuel prices soared to record highs, driving inflation higher after the Ukraine crisis lifted oil prices. The average price of diesel rose to a record 180.32p, while petrol climbed to 166.8p, taking it closer to the all-time high of 167.3p set in late March.

Food prices also rose sharply in the year to April, with the war driving up the cost of cereals, cooking oil and meat.

Meanwhile, new polling showed record numbers of voters believe the Conservative government is handling the economy badly.

According to YouGov, more than seven in 10 Britons (72%) now think the government is not doing a good job handling the economy, compared to just 19% who think the government is doing well.

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