In the United Kingdom, the ghost of a major social crisis

Elizabeth approaches 71 Ronalds Road in the London Borough of Islington, one of the most socially mixed boroughs in all of England. She enters a courtyard whose large metal gate is only open to the public two days a week, and hurries inside the building. She comes out a quarter of an hour later with a full backpack and shopping bag. “With the current price increase, I can only survive thanks to this food bank, explains this 40-year-old who works part-time in the national public health system. I have no choice: If I want to be able to heat the house and feed my children, I have to come here. »

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Following a dive during the pandemic, consumer prices have risen sharply in the UK over the past year to reach 6.2% in February, a level not seen since May 1992. Inflation is driven by rising wages, which is registered after the closure, the lack of access to European foreign labor since Brexit, and above all the explosion in electricity, gas and petrol prices.

Electricity is rising sharply

Like most poorer households, Elizabeth cannot afford to pay her bills by direct bank transfer. She therefore has a rechargeable card, which she puts in her electricity meter to make it work, at a higher rate. “There are only 5 books left (€ 5.90) on my card and I have to put money back on it, otherwise I have no more power “, she specifies. With this device, she immediately saw the evolution in prices over the past year. “With 40 pounds (€ 48) we stayed three months, for I am very careful to turn off the light as soon as I leave a room, only to heat the main room a few hours a day. Today, those are 40 pounds only last six weeks. »

This situation is serious for many Britons. Three think tanks have published their respective studies over the past week to present the extent of the problem to the government. In the eyes of the Resolution Foundation, a specialist in the issue of the standard of living of the middle and poor classes, “the poorest 10% of households, who spend twice as much of their budget on food and energy as the richest 10%, may experience 10% inflation”.

British high debt

It reveals the New Economics Foundation (NEF). “in April next time a third of households (23.4 million people, editor’s note)will have too low a budget, an average of £ 8,600 (over € 10,200) to cover the cost of living., annual. She adds “almost half (48%) of children in the country live in households affected by these budgetary problems “. 96% of children will be affected in unemployed families. This situation, NEF continues, “will force families to make impossible choices between significant living costs, such as putting food on the table or changing clothes and shoes”.

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As Elizabeth slowly walks towards her home with her arms full, Maryam arrives at her appointment at the food bank run by the Threat Trust. Since the pandemic, every voucher recipient must make an appointment. As he walks, his cart overflows with cans, diapers and boxes of grain. “Normally, it was already complicated with our three children; now it’s very difficult, “ she said with a sad look and low voice. “I hope the government will support us, otherwise I can not see how we can hold on. » So does the charity StepChange, which fights excessive debt. According to the latest poll, 21% of Britons will go into debt over the coming year due to inflation and 31% will struggle to buy essentials.

An economy plagued by inflation

In 2021, the 1,300 branches of the charity Trussell Trust distributed 2.5 million food packages.

OBR, public economic forecasting body, predicts that inflation may reach 8.7% in the last quarter of 2022 after 6.2% in February.

The government has announced billions of pounds of measures, primarily for tax purposes, including a 12-month reduction of 5 pence per. liters in fuel tax. It also allows for an increase in the income tax exemption or even an increase in a fund to help the most modest households.

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