Real stories of the current cost of living crisis from people across Manchester will land on the doormats of Downing Street, Labor councilors have vowed. Tragic tales of people choosing between heating and eating will be collected for a report which will be delivered to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister.
Councilors shared stories from constituents who are struggling, together with recent reports by the MEN, at a town hall meeting on Wednesday (March 30). It came after councilors were told the energy price cap is expected to rise by 150 pc over the next year with the first hike happening on Friday (April 1).
The number of residents claiming Universal Credit is now 75,981 – almost double the total before the pandemic – with the unemployment rate at 6.7 pc. And it is feared that the number of children in the city who are living in poverty, estimated to be 42 pc in March 2020, will have risen and will continue to rise.
READ MORE: Life on the Greater Manchester streets where families have to beg for clothes – and sit on the settee and cry
Sharing how Harpurhey residents responded to Rishi Sunak ‘s Spring Statement as reported by the MEN , Labor councilor Pat Karney said the ruling group will make sure these voices are heard in Downing Street. He said: “An economic tornado is on its way for residents in Manchester.”
Woodhouse Park councilor Sarah Judge shared a story of a single mum from her ward who has been struggling to make ends meet despite working at a local shop five days a week and at a pub on Friday and Saturday evenings. The young woman, who the councillor called Emma, said she ran out of electricity and had to light candles until she was paid the following day.
She later spent £10 of her last £14 on electricity and the rest on dinner – but the pizza burnt in the oven while she helped her older son with his homework. Coun Judge said: “She told me how she sat on the kitchen floor and cried uncontrollably, so angry with herself that she could n’t do more and so frustrated that despite all of her hard work she was left in this position. “
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Labor members from Moston, Ancoats and Beswick also spoke at the meeting, sharing stories of families choosing between fuel and food. Manchester council leader Bev Craig described the stories as ‘harrowing’.
She told councilors that the cut to the Universal Credit uplift last autumn cost Mancunians £60m, with only £6.4m offered to deal with the consequences. She said: “Putting money into the pockets of Manchester people, rather than putting money into the profits of energy firms, is precisely what this Chancellor should be doing.”
Lib Dem leader John Leech suggested that the council writes to energy companies and to the energy minister, calling for all debts associated with prepayment meters to be frozen until prices return to reasonable rates. After the meeting, Labor councilors signed a petition calling for the energy price cap to be frozen indefinitely by the newly created campaign group UK Won’t Pay, rather than raising it by 54 pc – and additional £693 a year – from April 1.