On the cost of living crisis
I want to say something about the insane price hikes we are seeing, but it’s hard to know what to say, really.
My food bills have nearly doubled, not because of my meat intake as posh meat seems to have stayed about the same price, but because of the amount of fruit and veg I consume. Soon I will need to reconsider what I eat.
My energy bills have gone from 4% of my income (after rent) to 7% of my income, and will shortly rise to around 13%. I already turn everything off at the plug at night and/or if I am not using it, so there isn’t a way for me to cut back further other than not having a fridge, or not using the cooker, or turning off the lights. I dread winter, because this flat is freezing.
My neighbour told me a young girl of about 16/17 years of age is sleeping in my doorway of late, tent city in my local park has expanded, there is a man who sits for hours on the grass with his head in his hands who I watch with sorrow when I’m working out in the park, and there are now two people sleeping in tents on the marshes where I go running.
And this has only just started…
As difficult as this is for me as a person who can only work part-time, I cannot imagine what it is like for those on Universal Credit or in minimum wage jobs. These increases are simply not possible to accommodate. There’s not even a ‘how will I?’ or ‘what can I cut back on?’; there is simply and unequivocally a ‘I cannot’.
I graduated my undergraduate degree during the 2008 crash and was subsequently unable to find work. After months of desperately trying to figure things out, I was forced to sign on. The DWP refused me Job Seekers Allowance as it decided I was a man with a substantial private pension. No amount of appearing in the Job Centre as a woman about three decades too young to draw from a pension would convince them otherwise until eventually I lost my home, as not being able to claim JSA meant I could not claim housing benefit either.
I can still feel the pain which gripped my stomach during those months before my entire life collapsed, when I was talking, begging, appealing to the brick wall of the State. When I literally watched my hair grow greyer by the week. I could not eat and I could not sleep, such was the fear, worry, and anxiety. No amount of desperate pleading or demonstrating their obvious error mattered to the utter fucking cunts who work for the DWP. The system said I was a minted man, and that was the end of that.
That is, of course, a different scenario to the situation of those with the lowest of incomes today living through this crisis, but I imagine the feelings are the same. The outcome surely is: there is simply and quite literally no money to pay for the most basic of life’s necessities. This is not a question of being stretched beyond your means, it is to have no means, and for there to be literally no way of changing that.
For there for be such an obscenity of greed and error in the face of all that suffering is for me, at least, to release the krakens of rage and fury. In 2009, amidst the bank bailouts and austerity cuts, I made a collage predicting a riot. I was right, if a little early.
I am also quite certain that if something is not done about this crisis and quickly, there will be a burning and a looting; if not tonight, then sometime before this whole mess is over. There is no other path through to a relative of justice. Violence begets violence. Let us not forget the origin point this time.