Cost-of-living crisis

Real stories make for better examples, so I’ll use myself as an example. The literary equivalent of the third Stooges album if you like.

I requested for a drop in my electricity direct debit just after Christmas from £57 a month to £40. It was accepted because winter was worryingly (from a climate perspective) mild, I hadn’t had the heating on as much over the 2021/22 winter. I knew the cost-of-living crisis was on the horizon — so did everybody else, including politicians.

Of course, even though data is kept and conversations “recorded” nobody remembers my personal history — I am just a £ sign to them. Therefore, the advice to move to a £93 a month “fixed” tariff should not have come as a surprise. It was still a brutal blast of relentless reality blasting a bullet through my skull.

The request led to several conversations with the provider’s staff — they said my direct debit could stay the same, stated their “help” scheme was unavailable to me because I had a job. Again, I should not have been surprised, the Government is also punishing me for having a job with an unjustified and perfectly timed increase in National Insurance. In other words, they’re taxing the hell out of us.

Cut to a month later. I have now received an email stating my direct debit has been reviewed and is increasing to £99 a month. No, it isn’t. I have been online and readjusted it back to the £40 I currently pay and my email explains my situation — again! The supplier in question is E-on Next. Obviously, communication isn’t their strong point and departments don’t talk to each other. But that’s big corporations for you.

What are the Government doing? Well, other than taxing us more, a couple of token gestures and, er, that’s it. We get £150 council tax “rebate” will help a little for a couple of months and a “loan” scheme that will help for another couple of months before plunging us into debt and increasing out bills for the next five years. The politicians say “we understand, but…” proving they don’t understand.

How can someone on £100,000 plus a year understand how someone on the minimum wage is struggling? They can’t. they don’t. When people say the government aren’t listening, they are half right. The government does listen, but only to businesses and unfortunately, energy providers are faceless corporations. They do not care either — if they did, they wouldn’t have taken advantage of the price cap hike with such gusto.

The Government has many options: They can cancel the National Insurance rise, cut VAT on energy, increase the National Living Wage, cut fuel duty, make the loan scheme a grant scheme, hit the energy suppliers with a windfall tax… They have many options. Unfortunately, those bombarded with rising prices from every angle have very few. We can ask for a pay rise, sell the car, cancel pension contributions, use a foodbank — none of our options are desirable — yet our pleas fall on deaf ears. The rich politicians drinking in their subsidised bar live in another world and they will never understand.

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