One of the UK’s most prominent retailers has urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to deliver massive welfare gains for the poorest as pressure grows to deal with the cost of living crisis.
Asda and Conservative colleague’s chairman Stuart Rose effectively supported restoring the £20-per-share increase in universal credit introduced at the beginning of the Covid pandemic to help low-income families. He said some people are seeing “shocking” impressions on their bills and warned that the pressure is likely to continue through 2024.
“We are experiencing a national economic emergency and we all need to work together to solve it,” he said. observer. “Doing nothing is not an option. We must act and act quickly. Even if the situation improves next year, if prices fall, prices will continue to rise. The people we need to worry about are the low-income class. They are really struggling.”
Rose is the latest senior executive and Conservative party to call for immediate action. Tesco chairman John Allen last week called for support, saying he had “overwhelming examples” of imposing embezzlement taxes on energy companies to help those most suffering from the cost of living crisis. “I’m anxious about the windfall,” Rose said, and believed that direct targeted support for low wages was a better approach.
“I think it should be done through welfare. You have to set your goals carefully,” he said. “We need interventions that will make a significant difference to people. I don’t know how the low-wage people and their two kids will make it through this year. If you get sick, give them medicine until they get better, then take it out. Just explain carefully. People will understand. I will do highly targeted interventions that make a meaningful difference to people. This is equivalent to £1,000 per year.
“It is shocking. This has been going on for months, if not more. It is shocking that we seem to have just seen this come.
“The second thing I have to say is that this is not temporary. This will have a lasting impact on the economy and consumers through 2024. That’s a big problem.”
His intervention comes after Sunak said in a spring statement that he couldn’t raise wages further because of the outdated computer systems used by the Department for Work and Pension (DWP). He admitted that citing technical issues “sounds like an excuse”, but he’s been told that for some who benefit, it can only improve once a year.
Several Conservative parties are calling for action. Boris Johnson refused to rule out a windfall introduction, and Sunak suggested that it could be an option if energy companies fail to invest in the UK. But many lawmakers want tax cuts to be pushed forward or to help through a benefit system. The government raised salaries by 3% when inflation hit 7% and expects to reach 10% by the end of the year.
Ahead of the EU referendum, Rose, the leader of the Retention campaign, lamented that citing Brexit’s impact on the cost of living crisis felt “unacceptable”. “This is the single largest economic catastrophe that has ever occurred to the country and will continue to have negative impacts for some time to come.
“It was conveniently disguised and ignored because of Covid. It was the best excuse the government had to cover up all the bad effects of Brexit. Transportation, insurance, freight, administration and labor costs have increased. It caused the problem we have in Northern Ireland. Trade with Europe has declined significantly more than any new trade gained from overseas expansion that is circulating around the world by those who say ‘we have another trade deal’. We can’t turn it back, but my god, one day someone will have to be honest and need proper balance sheet calculations. No one wants to be seen as a ‘remother’, but the truth is shocking. It would be comical if it wasn’t that shocking.”
He said he believes that the next generation will have politicians looking to maintain close ties with Europe again. Time, say: ‘I have this vision.’ I think we’ll be back in Europe in some sort of different structure by the mid-2030s. But in some sort of trading way, it’s more of a European. That is my prediction.”