Martin Lewis issues a “financial apocalypse” warning to the next UK prime minister
The founder of Money Saving Expert begs for warm public spaces in the winter as some people’s cost of living increases. The next prime minister faces inheriting a nation on the verge of a “national financial cataclysm” as rising energy costs threaten to plunge households into financial crisis this winter, according to consumer advocate Martin Lewis.
Amid rising inflation and a cost of living issue, the founder of the Money Saving Expert website has grown more outspoken recently on behalf of financially strapped people.
Lewis predicted that further gas and electricity bill price rises this autumn would require the provision of “warm spaces in public buildings” such as libraries, where people who can no longer afford to heat their homes can find shelter.
Lewis predicted that the coming winter will be dismal. I think that unless something is done, there could be a financial catastrophe on a national scale. His remarks come after recent data revealed that, in May, British employees’ living standards fell at a record rate as a result of pay gains that lagged behind inflation.
Lewis said in a “open video letter” to the other Conservative leadership contenders that the debate had overlooked a rising cost of living crisis, with energy prices projected to rise in the autumn when a new higher price cap is anticipated to push the average household bill beyond £3,200.
A recent update from analysts at Cornwall Insight predicts that in October the energy price cap will rise to £3,244 a year. The default tariff cap is expected to then rise again in January, to £3,363 a year. The tariff, set quarterly by the energy industry regulator, Ofgem, is already at a record high of £1,971 a year.
This looming 65% increase in energy costs would have huge ramifications, said Lewis, with a typical energy bill now equal to more than a third of a state pensioner’s income. “It is just not affordable,” he said.
The £400 government grant to help with energy bills had been already been swallowed up by predicted increases in the price cap, Lewis explained.
“These rises are unaffordable for many on the lowest incomes,” he said. “And while tax cuts will help, for those at the bottom end of universal credit and many state pensioners, the rises – when added to the increasing costs of food and transport and other inflation – means they’ll be back to that choice between starving and freezing.”
“This winter we’re going to need warm spaces in public buildings,” he said. “Local councils, universities and libraries will need to open their doors and invite people in to keep warm because they can’t afford to put their own heating on.”
Based on the discussions Lewis had had with his 2 million followers on social media, he said civil unrest was becoming a “plausible outcome unless the government gets a handle on this”. The most likely action being taken was mass non-payment of bills, he said.
“More intervention and action is needed, and it needs to be quick,” said Lewis. “There is a hard deadline coming and without more action I worry lives could be lost.”
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