Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis warns ‘civil unrest isn’t far away’ as cost of living crisis grips Britain and demands Rishi Sunak does more to ‘keep people fed and warm’
- Mr Lewis built a loyal following with his financial advice on MoneySavingExpert
- He said lower to middle income earners have ‘nothing left to cut back on’
- He claimed rising inflation has left people unable to find a way to pay their bills
- He warned of ‘civil unrest’ if people cannot keep their families fed or warm
- Energy bills have risen by £700, leaving Britons unable to afford heating at home
- At the same time, National Insurance has increased and fuel prices have surged
The consumer champion, who has built a loyal following for his financial advice, said lower to middle income earners have ‘nothing left to cut back on’.
He said the rising level of inflation affecting prices of food and heating has left people unable to find a way to pay their bills.
He warned if people cannot keep their families fed or warm then ‘civil unrest is not very far off’ and urged Rishi Sunak to ensure all middle income earners – those earning around £30,000 a year – have at least half their energy price rise covered this April.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Lewis said the current cost of living crisis is the worst since he found his website, Money Saving Expert, in 2003, and that he was ‘scared for people’.
He told the newspaper: ‘For people towards the bottom end, there’s nothing to cut back on. It is not an exaggeration to say that there are people we have to prevent freezing or starving.
‘We need to keep people fed. We need to keep them warm. If we get this wrong right now, then we get to the point where we start to risk civil unrest. When breadwinners cannot provide, anger brews and civil unrest brews – and I do not think we are very far off.’
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis (pictured) has warned ‘civil unrest isn’t far away’ as the cost of living crisis grips Britain
Mr Lewis demanded Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) does more to ‘keep people fed and warm’
At the start of this month, energy bills rose by £700-a-year to the £2,000 barrier meaning millions of Britons face being unable to afford to put the heating on, cook warm meals or have hot water.
On April 1 – nicknamed ‘Awful April’ because the cost of living crisis really began to bite – energy bills soared by 54 per cent, the equivalent of £693 per year, while petrol rose by 39 per cent, an increase of £23 per tank.
Add in increased council tax contributions, a 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance contributions and other costs, including increased water, broadband, phone and TV bills, the average household is expected to spend up to £2,620 extra this year.
Mr Lewis, who originally started using his website to help people save hundreds of pounds a year, said people are now stopping him in the street and sending him messages about how they are unable to make their finances add up.
He said he fells ‘slight sick’ that the current cost of living crisis has forced him to start a new feature on his website called Heat The Human which includes suggestions such as putting hot water bottles inside sleeping bags as it is too expensive to heat the whole house.
‘This is one of the richest countries in the world. It’s pretty desperate, isn’t it?’ he added.
Hell for households: How much more YOU will be paying in bills from April 1 (and it’s no joke)
British households are facing unprecedented rises to most of their monthly bills
Energy bills – up 54%, £693 a year
Annual energy bills will soar by 54 per cent today as regulator Ofgem raises the price cap for an average home to £1,971 from £1,277. Experts believe it will be £600 more from October.
Petrol – up, 39%, £23 per tank
Fuel prices have surged to a record high of £1.66 a litre of petrol and £1.78 for diesel as it emerged that motorists have been hit by daily increases for six weeks.
The cost of filling up a typical family car with a 55-litre tank is now £81.41, up from £58.56 in May 2020, when petrol prices plunged because of the first coronavirus lockdown.
Council tax – up 3.5%, £67 a year, on average
More than half of town halls will charge over £2,000 in average council tax bills this April. The typical Band D bill in England will be £1,966 – up 3.5 per cent on last year. The highest in the country will be in Rutland, where residents will receive bills of £2,300. The highest increase is in Sandwell in the West Midlands – up by 5.2 per cent. For the first time, more than half of local authorities will charge in excess of £2,000 for Band D households.
National insurance, up 1.25%
National insurance increases worth around £6billion are taking effect in a few days.
For employees they would previously pay 12% on earnings up to £50,270 and 2% on anything above that. From April 6, the rate goes up to 13.25% and 3.25% respectively. For the self-employed, rates will go up from 9% and 2% to 10.25% and 3.25%.
Payments will only be collected on wages above £9,880, although this rises to £12,570 in July.
Water bills – up 1.7% – £7, a year
Water bills in England and Wales will rise by an average of 1.7% to £419. South West Water customers will pay £515.
Broadband, phones and TV – £42 or more a year
Sky is hiking prices of broadband and TV channels by an extra £43 a year from April in a fresh cost of living blow. Families will need to fork out an additional £3.60 a month, Sky estimates, as it raises the costs across its services.
Sky joins other broadband and TV providers such as Virgin Media, which is already set to hike prices by an average of 4% from March 1, 2022.
And BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone are increasing prices by as much as 9%.
Vehicle excise duty – up 6%, between £10 and £30 a year
Tax on a band E car is increasing from £155 a year to £165. The most polluting cars are subject to a £30 increase.
Pint of beer – up 5%, 20p each
A cut in VAT has ended meaning landlords say they must add 20p or more to the cost of a pint. To make ends meet they say that £7 a pint might be needed in some London pubs.
Lateral flow tests – £1 to £3 each
Britons will face paying up to £3 per lateral flow test from April 1, despite French supermarkets offering them for three-times cheaper.
The Prime Minister scrapped ‘free’ lateral flow tests from today. People who opt to keep testing face spending £20 for a box of seven — around £3 per test.
Total increase: Up to £2,620-a-year per household
Mr Lewis called on the Chancellor, who he praised for introducing furlough at the start of the pandemic but then criticised for not doing enough to prevent the scheme’s loopholes, to ensure people receive enough money to pay their energy bills.
Mr Sunak has unveiled some measures to help with rising energy prices, including a £200 loan to assist with energy bills, which comes through in October, but Mr Lewis called the idea ‘hideously unpopular’ and urged him to offer a guarantee that lower to middle income earners would receive support with at least half of their new energy bills.
It comes as Mr Sunak moved his family out of his grace and favour Downing Street residence as he faces renewed backlash over his family’s financial affairs.
Removal vans packed with the couple’s furniture and personal items were pictured outside No 11 on Saturday as the couple make the move to their luxury West London home for family reasons.
A velvet armchair, shelving unit and several other personal belongings were loaded onto two lorries, in a move that has been long-planned because Mr Sunak’s eldest daughter is heading back to boarding school, reports the Mirror.
The Chancellor was battling to save his political career last night following new revelations about his family’s tax arrangements, including an astonishing claim that he broke US immigration rules.
On Friday, his wife Akshata Murty sensationally volunteered to pay UK tax on her global fortune in a bid to save her husband’s ailing political future.
In a dramatic U-turn, the Indian heiress said she would no longer apply to pay tax on a ‘remittance basis’, which allows non-doms to avoid UK tax on foreign earnings in return for a £30,000 annual fee.
Mr Sunak’s allies have suggested he would consider quitting the Cabinet all together to spare his family fresh scrutiny and protect their privacy.
The energy price cap will jump from £1,277 to £1,971 – an increase of £693 – with official forecasts suggesting it will increase by a further £788 in October.
An independent assessment for the Daily Mail found that price rises and tax hikes this month alone will cost a typical family of four more than £134 a month – equal to more than £1,612 a year.
This week, the Chancellor’s controversial hike in national insurance contributions kicked in, costing someone earning £30,000 an extra £255.
Council tax bills are rising by an average 3.5 per cent. And the hospitality sector warned that the decision to increase VAT to its pre-pandemic levels would put further pressure on inflation rates which are already forecast to hit 9 per cent this year.
Hospitality firms warned price rises in pubs and restaurants are ‘inevitable’ from today when the reduced rate of VAT on the sector goes up from 12.5 per cent to its pre-pandemic level of 20 per cent.
Last month, Mr Lewis urged households to submit photographs of their meters to suppliers for what he called ‘meter reading day’, a move which led to providers appearing to accuse him of causing glitches on their websites and E.On accusing him of ‘bringing down Britain’.
Households were encouraged to submit evidence of their meter readings before midnight on March 31 to show exactly how much energy they had been using. This was to prevent firms from estimating a customer’s energy usage before April 1 and potentially overcharging them at the new higher rate.
The guidance only applied to traditional meters rather than ‘smart’ ones, which automatically send data to suppliers.
A tweet by E.On’s official account read: ‘Unfortunately the website and phone lines of every supplier are being hammered today. Martin has once again created an unprecedented demand bringing down Britain.’
The tweet was swiftly deleted, with the firm admitting it was an ‘ill-considered and off-the-cuff remark’.
Octopus said: ‘Martin Lewis’ advice for customers to submit meter readings has driven incredible traffic.’
Mr Lewis appeared to laugh off the barbs, saying he thought the E.On tweet was ‘someone trying to be funny’. He added: ‘I’m always forgiving of human error (as I make them myself) so let’s move on.’
Mr Lewis was in tears on BBC Radio 5Live on March 31 as he read out emails form people who were terrified about how they will pay their energy bills.