As we head into the final twelve or so months before the 2024 general election and with the recent release of inflation and interest rate figures, Stop the Squeeze has launched a report based on YouGov polling to highlight the views of key swing demographics in the UK. The top priority is very clear: fifty percent of voters cited the cost of living crisis as one of the central issues they would like the government to address.
Action or inaction in finding solutions will play a central role in decisions of voters in the upcoming general election, but presently, voters do not believe that their demands for such solutions are being met by the main parties. In fact, less than half of both Labour and Conservative voters say that they are clear on what their party’s priorities actually are.
The Green Economy Coalition published a blog in March 2023 in anticipation of the Spring Budget, where we questioned the spending priorities of the Government in the face of surging energy, food and gas prices. Staggeringly, 9 out of 10 (87%) people had reported an increase in their cost of living in the previous year and disappointingly the government’s response to the crisis had been “lackluster, with little action taken to address the root causes of these issues.”
“ Urgent action is desperately needed to help low-income families struggling to afford basics like food and electricity.”
Data collected back in February 2023 by YouGov from over 11,000 people across the country, showed that 1 in 5 of the British public were in the category of ‘worried and suffering’ and were the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis. Data like this should help to inform policymakers on the different types of experiences groups of people face and encourage them to craft specific interventions, but this clearly isn’t happening.
The picture today, whilst slightly improved, is by no means close to pre-pandemic levels. With inflation still high (6.3% up on last year), households won’t suddenly stop feeling the pinch. Disposable income remains low, resulting in less spending and more borrowing. And with the war in Ukraine grinding on and fossil fuel companies passing record profits back to their shareholders, the world is set for another winter of soaring energy costs – which will disproportionately hurt the marginalised and vulnerable of the UK and elsewhere.
Stop the Squeeze is demanding that the Government do the following:
- Guarantee affordable, clean energy
- Boost incomes
- Introduce higher taxes on wealth
The GEC is in support of all of these demands, both for the United Kingdom and in other countries of the minority world.
“ We must reduce our reliance on a handful of multi-billion-dollar oil companies who have repeatedly demonstrated they prioritise shareholder wealth over citizens wellbeing.”
Urgent action is desperately needed to help low-income families struggling to afford basics like food and electricity. Meanwhile, long-term investment in areas such as renewable energy will protect the UK from future winters of misery, while reducing our reliance on expensive, polluting hydrocarbons controlled by a handful of multi-billion-dollar companies – who have repeatedly demonstrated they prioritise shareholder wealth over citizens wellbeing.
Here in the UK, the Conservative government has less than a year left before the next general election, and is widely seen as out of ideas and grasping for divisive culture-war issues out of desperation. Furthermore, the recent decision by Rishi Sunak to water down Britain’s climate commitments signals a steer in the wrong direction and disregard for protecting the country and its citizens in the long run.
While polls put Labour with a commanding lead heading into the final stages of this electoral cycle, real questions remain. Surveys have found that voters think Labour would do a better job on the cost of living, but only 15% of voters say they have a good idea of what either party would do.
Bolder solutions and concrete policy ideas, such as those proposed by Stop the Squeeze which we are proud to support, would bring much needed clarity and purpose, and would be widely supported by UK voters. They’d also help the vulnerable, restrict wealth capture by elites, and put the UK’s creaking energy infrastructure on the front foot to face the challenges of the coming decades. Any political party that wants to compete at the next election, rather than merely fanning the flames of social division, would be well advised to adopt them.
- Zaiza Khan, GEC
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