Cost of living crisis: Does Boris Johnson care about thousands of people whose food and energy bills exceed their income? – Susan Dalgety

Last week’s Queen’s Speech, which was supposed to set out Boris Johnson’s priorities for the coming year, was a dismal effort by an increasingly out-of-touch government.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 12:30 pm

As people struggle to cope with rampant inflation and energy bills that are simply unaffordable, the best the Conservatives could come up with was “street votes” to decide planning applications, and that will only apply in England.

So far, Johnson has resisted calls for further measures to alleviate the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis, but surely even he must realise that he must act, and quickly.

Research last week suggests that more than 150,000 Scottish households do not have enough money to live on, as food and energy bills exceed their income.

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By my calculations, that means there are around 14,600 households in Edinburgh facing a financial crisis unlike anything seen for at least a generation.

For a short period of my life, I existed on benefits, which were paid in cash every Monday. If I was very careful, I could just about feed my electric meter and my two young sons, but come a Sunday, I would have literally no money.

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I dreaded emergencies, such as the boys needing new shoes or tearing a hole in their school trousers. Even simple things, like my monthly supply of sanitary products, blew a hole in my budget and luxuries, such as family trips to the cinema or a takeaway meal were out of the question.

Boris Johnson reportedly refurbished the Prime Minister's flat in Downing Street using £800-a-roll wallpaper (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/WPA pool/Getty Images)

I never thought we would see people struggle like that again, but a combination of the Tories’ welfare cuts and the current economic crisis means that many of us can no longer afford to live.

I doubt if Boris Johnson, a man who covered the walls of his Downing Street flat with £800-a-roll wallpaper, has any understanding of what it means to open your fridge and find it empty. Or bathing your child in cold water because heating is unaffordable.

But he could help those most in need by introducing a windfall tax on energy companies, just as Labour’s Gordon Brown did in 1997. Even the chairman of Tesco has said there is an overwhelming case for it. So what is Johnson waiting for? Or doesn’t he care?