Soaring food prices will be as big a problem as energy bills, Tory MP says
Soaring food costs will become as big a problem as energy bills as the cost-of-living crisis continues to deepen, a Tory MP has warned.
Food inflation hit 14.6% in the 12 months to September as the price of groceries shot up, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Tory MP for The Cotswolds, warned MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday that spiking food prices are having a devastating impact on low income households.
Low income households face higher levels of inflation as they spend more of their money on items like energy and food which are seeing the steepest price rises.
Clifton-Brown said rising food prices are "making the weekly shop for many in this country simply unaffordable".
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“The impact [of inflation] on food staples will be catastrophic for those living on the breadline already having to tightly budget to feed their families each week," said Clifton-Brown.
"Food and energy prices are highly regressive, costing more for those on low income... as a percentage of their budgets than those higher up on the income scale.
"Increasing food prices will soon, madam deputy speaker, become as big a problem as the increase in energy prices – on which much more attention has been paid in this house and elsewhere.”
The government has capped the price of energy, setting a ceiling per unit that consumers can be charged at a level that means a typical household will pay around £2,500 per year.
The package, which will be in place for six months until April, is designed to limit how much bills increase this winter.
Read more: 'Plunged into darkness': The worrying rise in families on pay-as-you-go energy meters
No measures have been put in place to specifically help households struggling with the staggering increase in food prices.
Clifton-Brown urged supermarkets to "hold prices down even if it impacts on their profits".
In an example of the growing crisis, recent data from the ONS has revealed low fat milk has seen the biggest food price surge over the last 12 months, increasing by 42.1%.
Whole milk has seen a 30.2% increase, with margarine seeing a 30.5% increase.
Pasta has gone up by 22.7%, and potatoes have gone up 19.9%.
On Thursday, more than 100 of the UK's leading charities –including Save The Children, Citizen's Advice, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – called on the government to bring forward a planned uprating in benefits.
"Inflation is forecast to remain extremely high for many months to come," they wrote in a letter to new prime minister, Rishi Sunak.
"In the face of such economic uncertainty it is right that you provide households on low incomes with the reassurance they need and uprate benefits by inflation [10.1%] as soon as possible."
Read more: Morrisons is offering free meals to hard-up families in their cafes
Pressure is growing on Sunak ahead of the autumn statement to stick to his pledge from May to uprate benefits inline with inflation this spring.
He has refused to commit to the rise after Liz Truss's mini-budget sent the economy into turmoil and deepened the government's fiscal black hole.
New chancellor Jeremy Hunt earlier this month warned decisions of "eye-watering difficulty" lie ahead on taxation and spending, but insisted that vulnerable people would be protected.
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