The UK’s cost of living has been rising since early 2021. The Bank of England says the recent increases in energy bills, three times more than in 2021, will drive inflation from 10% to 13% very soon.
Ofgem, The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, which regulates energy caps, recently approved an 80% increase in the energy cap, driving bills to unaffordable levels. According to a statement released by a Uk parliament House of Commons session, the war in Ukraine has been one of the main reasons behind these rising prices.
The war has significantly impacted food and gas prices, with crude oil and grain resources becoming more and more difficult to source, forcing providers to purchase them from other sellers at premium costs.
Students and those living off government benefits are proving to be the worst hit by this crisis. Many have resorted to switching on dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances only late at night when water prices are slightly lower.
Students have resorted to staying on campus in libraries or communal study places to work instead of returning to their flats to save on electricity bills. Others have invested in battery-powered lights and appliances.
Working conditions post-pandemic have also caused living prices to increase as more and more people have begun to work from home or take to hybrid working conditions, which have naturally increased demand.
The Ofgem price cap has garnered an uproar amongst the public, with it even facing the possibility of being sued. An organisation, The Good Law Project, said it would question the High Court and ‘ensure the regulator upholds its legal duties to assess the disproportionate impact on elderly people, children and people with disabilities, before confirming the price cap increase’.
In addition to the rising costs of utilities, food prices have also risen sharply. Depressingly, the worst hit items are those most commonly used and consumed in the typical UK household. Some items are all dairy products, flour, oil, pasta, vegetable fats, bottled water, condiments and spices, meat, and eggs.
With such living conditions becoming untenable, unions have argued that wages should reflect this inflation or people will be unable to afford necessities. However, the government has countered this statement, arguing that this could increase inflation.
The Bank of England has attempted to take measures such as raising interest rates which typically drives down prices, but these measures seem to have had little impact so far.
Edited by: Ayona Mitra
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