Great Britain: Whoever can afford it matters

Status: 01/22/2022 11:17 a.m

Inflation in Britain is becoming a financial burden for millions of households. Energy in particular threatens to become significantly more expensive again from April. Those affected and experts see the government as having an obligation.

By Imke Köhler, ARD Studio London

Inflation in the UK is 5.4 percent, the highest in almost 30 years. Poorer households are hit hard by the fact that groceries, shoes and clothing are costing more and, above all, that energy has become more expensive.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

“It’s very degrading,” Rebecca, a West Yorkshire mother, told the BBC. “You should be able to give your children a warm home.”

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, there are already 1.8 million children in the UK living in households with insufficient income for basic necessities. This also becomes clear when you listen to Rebecca’s eleven-year-old son: “Sometimes we have to fight quite a bit. It can get really hard, so that we can no longer afford bread and milk,” says the boy, only to then bravely add:

My mother taught us that we can’t always have what we want. But we have what we need.

When asked what that is, the eleven-year-old speaks of a roof over his head and love – and he gets a lot from that.

Energy prices could rise drastically

But the hardships will increase, because the British will have noticeably less in their wallets from spring. The reasons for this are tax increases, but above all a dramatic jump in energy costs, with which inflation could climb to six or even seven percent.

Energy prices are capped in Great Britain, which is why energy suppliers have only been able to pass the high world market prices on to their customers to a limited extent. On April 1, the price cap will be raised again, which should lead to a price increase of more than 50 percent.

Choosing between heating and eating?

Martin Lewis, financial journalist and founder of the website, like many others, sees an urgent need for action. With all the political measures that are now being discussed – from the elimination of VAT on energy to subsidies for heating costs – one thing remains, according to Lewis:

It is absolutely clear that we need a substantial increase in aid to vulnerable people and low earners – an increase of billions of pounds. Otherwise, some will have to choose between heating and eating.”

Millions of households face financial difficulties

Average energy costs will increase from £1277 to around £2000 a year in April. The think tank Resolution Foundation assumes that in England alone around 6.2 million households will then hardly be able to pay their bills.

Single mom Jo Barkham-Marsh can’t do that anymore. The temperature in her house has dropped to 16 degrees. She and her son spend most of the day in the children’s room, which is the only room that has a carpet and is kept warm with an electric radiator. Jo demands help from the government:

First of all, we need to remind our government that they have to take care of everyone in society. Many people got richer during this bad time. But there are also very many who have become infinitely poorer. The government needs to show leadership and bring us back into play, taking us into account rather than forgetting us.”

The risk of poverty for many Britons is real, even the energy suppliers have pointed this out. What the government does now will be decisive.

Great Britain: Inflation increases the risk of poverty

Imke Koehler, ARD London, 22.1.2022 10:44 a.m

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