June Angus, West London Socialist Party
Conservative ministers patted themselves on the back when inflation was reported to have dropped to 4.6% in October, down from 6.7% in September and falling sharply from its peak at 11.1% the previous year. However, the government can’t take too much of the credit – economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies say the drop was largely due to a fall in the energy price cap.
While the Tories are celebrating, people across the UK struggling to keep up with costs certainly won’t be – mortgage rates are soaring, food prices remain mostly unchanged and, despite the energy cap, many households will find it even harder to pay energy bills this winter since government support is no longer being provided. On top of this, wages remain low and support services are still critically underfunded. Prices are 21% higher now than they were in January 2021. The average working person is finding it increasingly difficult to survive – let alone save any extra cash.
This was reflected in retail sales for October. Sales volumes fell by 0.3% last month, hitting a low not seen since the Covid-19 lockdowns of early 2021. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that shoppers are spending “cautiously”, increasingly prioritising the essentials over things like household goods and clothing. The ONS also found that shoppers are buying cheaper products, citing “cost-of-living pressures” for this change. This will come as little surprise to the growing number of people worried about their ever-rising costs, especially with the festive period looming.
The Conservatives serve the interests of the UK’s wealthiest people and are not interested in helping the masses – 13 years of austerity have made that clear. Labour doesn’t provide much hope either, with Keir Starmer unwilling to mount a real opposition to the Tories’ brutal policies. The millions of households struggling to afford bills this winter desperately need a political party that represents working-class interests.