'We can't afford to live'

Unite protest outside chancellor’s constituency office over lack of action on catastrophic living costs

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Ahead of the spring statement on Wednesday, March 23, members of Unite Community will travel to Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire to urge him to do a lot more to help the UK’s poorest households through the deepest cost of living crisis for centuries.

The protest will take place on Friday, March 18 from 11.30am outside Sunak’s constituency office, Unit 1, Omega Business Village, Northallerton, DL6 2NJ.

Unite Community members, including benefit claimants, pensioners and the low waged, will hold replicas of the chancellor’s famous red budget box emblazoned with the message ‘We can’t afford to live.’

They will also hand in copies of their household budgets to show the impossible choices people are facing between ‘heating or eating’. For example, one minimum wage worker, who has shared his absolute minimum monthly expenditures for essential bills with Unite, has a budget shortfall of £100.34, while a disabled claimant is over budget by £109.95.

Unite is calling on the chancellor to use his spring budget to push up incomes. This includes restoring the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and an inflation-rate pay rise for the UK’s millions of public sector workers, as energy costs now are running 14 times ahead of wage rises and £3,000 energy bills are predicted for the autumn.

Unite Community coordinator Heather Blakey said, “No one in this country should have to choose between ‘heating or eating’. But for many Unite Community members that is the reality they’re facing.

“The chancellor must use his spring budget to bring forward a package of measures, including reinstating and extending the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit cruelly snatched away last October. He must also increase benefits in line with inflation. If he doesn’t people could die, and that’s no exaggeration.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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