Cost of living crisis: Our new Prime Minister, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, must realise that drastic times call for drastic measures. But will they? – Susan Dalgety
It’s a momentous week. Tomorrow our new Prime Minister will travel to Balmoral to meet the Queen to get the Royal seal of approval.
It’s a long way to go for a job offer, but tradition dictates that the monarch must ask any new incumbent of Number 10 if they are “able to form a government”.
Assuming the answer is yes, hands are then shaken – or “kissed” as the Court Circular will later record, and Britain’s 56th Prime Minister will be officially in post.
The first, Robert Walpole, was appointed in 1721, and served for nearly 21 years, but I doubt if number 56 will make two years, let alone two decades.
A general election must take place by the end of 2024 and between now and then we will have endured the biggest cost-of-living crisis of our lifetime.
The Tories may not have caused the global economic meltdown, but their response so far has been woefully inadequate and there is no evidence that the new Prime Minister will do any better than the last one.
I have given up calculating how I am going to cope with my energy bills. Thanks to the latest price rise, due on October 1, I will have to find around 80 per cent more a month than I am currently paying.
I have bought foil to stick behind my radiators – apparently that helps reflect heat back into the room. My husband is researching cheap secondary double-glazing for our ancient sash windows.
Living in the heart of the city brings many joys, but our new-to-us flat, with its original windows and interminable draughts, will be a nightmare to heat this winter.
I have hunted out my discount heated throw, checked the hot-water bottles for leaks, and contemplated running away to the south of France to live in our camper van. Anything to shave a few pounds off energy bills which will eat up more than half my state pension.
I am still working, so I will get by, but it will be painful. But for thousands of people across Edinburgh the winter will break them – they will simply not have enough money to eat and heat their home. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact of life.
The energy crisis may have unexpected consequences, however. Many city office blocks are still lying almost empty as staff continue to work from home. Research just out shows that less than a quarter (22 per cent) have been told to get back to their desk full time.
It makes for an easier morning drive to the DIY store in Sighthill to pick up the radiator foil, but the impact of home-working on city businesses such as cafes and bars has been significant.
One upside of the energy crisis may be that, to save on their domestic heating bills, people head back to the office this winter. Why pay for heating when your employer can?
And a subsidised public transport scheme – like the one in Germany where unlimited rail travel was reduced to nine euros a month – would help keep returning commuters off the roads. Drastic times call for drastic measures. I just hope our new Prime Minister is up to the task.