Activism

Thousands attend cost of living protests in cities across the UK

Speeches and marches organised by anti-austerity campaigners The People's Assembly took place in more than 20 cities across the UK from late morning.

Placards at the cost of living protest in London 2022. Image: arry Knight/Flickr.

Placards at a cost of living protest in London in 2022. Image: Garry Knight/Flickr.

Thousands of people took to the streets in cost of living protests across the UK on Saturday against government inaction over the spiralling cost of living crisis.

Speeches and marches organised by anti-austerity campaigners The People’s Assembly took place in more than 20 cities across the UK from late morning.

Locations included outside Downing Street in London, Manchester’s Picadilly Gardens and Glasgow’s George Square, as well as in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle and Portsmouth. The full list of protest times and venues is on The People’s Assembly website.

Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby who spoke at the rally on the Liverpool waterfront, described the economic climate as a “humanitarian crisis” and accused the government of “a total lack of empathy or solutions… in what are communities are facing at the moment”.

“Hunger is a political choice and he needs to make the right choices.,” he said ahead of the event. “Because at the moment he’s not and people are suffering.”

On top of rising prices for everyday goods outstripping people’s wages, overnight changes came into effect on April 1 which economic researchers warned will likely result in a “living standards catastrophe”.

They include:

  • Ofgem increasing the energy price cap by 54 per cent, meaning a nearly £700 annual rise in bills for those who pay by direct debit
  • A national insurance increase – dubbed the health and social levy by ministers – of 10 per cent, which experts warned would affect the lowest earners the most
  • Council tax rising by around 3.5 per cent, meaning those in band D could face paying around £2,000 annually
  • A freeze on the income tax threshold, meaning a real-terms cut in take-home earnings for most
  • Water bills rising by an average 1.7 per cent
  • Lateral flow tests will no longer be free for everyone in England, to be followed by the rest of the UK in coming weeks
  • A rise in VAT for hospitality businesses, which will be passed onto customers in the form of higher price points
  • The biggest hike in rent prices for social housing tenants in more than a decade
  • A benefits increase of just 3.1 per cent, in the face of inflation which could hit eight per cent
  • An increase in the National Living Wage – the minimum wage for over-23s – which is too small to compensate for the rise in living costs, amounting to a real-terms cut for some

Members of parliament, meanwhile, received a £2,000 pay rise.

“There are no solutions to the #CostofLivingCrisis that can be found by acting alone,” tweeted Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP and national secretary of The People’s Assembly. “They have to be collective. All of us working together to build a mass movement against the people who have created this crisis. Protest is one important part of that.”

“We need to galvanise communities, we need to galvanise the public,” said Byrne. “We need public opinion to be absolutely huge to change the minds of the decision makers like the chancellor.”

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