Kit Malthouse, speaking in front of a burning fire on the day he got a £2,200 pay rise, said even his family is finding it ‘quite tricky’ – but Rishi Sunak has refused calls to do more
A Tory minister on a £115,000 salary today complained the cost-of-living crisis is hitting him “very significantly”.
Keir Starmer said the government “just doesn’t get” it as Kit Malthouse said his family is finding it “quite tricky… day-to-day”.
The North West Hampshire MP made the comment on the same day he receives a £2,200-a-year pay rise for MPs.
Speaking in front of a burning fireplace in his home, the father-of-three told LBC Radio: “As you know, I’ve got children. They need to be fed and that cost is rising.
“My fuel prices are rising quite significantly, and I have to say that in my constituency I’m on oil central heating still, sadly.” He added: “We are feeling it very significantly.”
The fact a government minister in the wealthiest 3% of taxpayers is struggling will ramp up furious pressure on Rishi Sunak to announce more help.
Last week the Chancellor made National Insurance thresholds more generous and unveiled a temporary fuel duty cut – but neither will help the worst-paid part time workers with no car as incomes drop by the fastest since records began in the 1950s.
He has already announced a £150 council tax discount that not everyone is eligible for, and a £200 energy bills discount that only comes in October and must be paid back.
Energy firms’ websites crashed yesterday as people submitted meter readings ahead of today’s £693 surge in annual bills.
Charities said the rise will double the number of ‘fuel stress’ families struggling to pay the gas bill to 5million.
The TUC demanded an emergency budget with general secretary Frances O’Grady saying: “This is a living standards emergency. Last week’s Spring Statement was woefully inadequate.”
And parents told Save the Children they would be giving their children shared baths and cold dinners, or even sending them to bed hungry.
Bethany Fern, a 26-year-old single mum to a seven-year-old and three-year-old from Southport, told the charity: “I’m going to try and cut back even more on what we spend on food and try to freeze more.
Save the Children)
“We’ll be eating a lot more cold meals, triple-checking that plugs are turned off if not being used and limiting TV even more than we already do.
“We already have the heating off a lot, and my children rely on extra layers, duvets and weighted blankets.
“They have to have shared baths or not fresh baths between each other to preserve the boiler from heating water.”
Another single mum-of-three, who works full time, told LBC Radio she keeps her kids warm with hot water bottles, can only afford one meal a day and eats their leftovers.
Minister and father-of-three Mr Malthouse said: “Lots of people in rural areas are suffering from the oil price rise.
“So we are feeling it very significantly.
“I have to confess to you, we did convert last year to electric vehicles, so we are feeling the electric price but not through the petrol. So it is a challenge for everybody.”
Mr Malthouse earns £84,144 as an MP following a 2.7% rise today. Together with his salary as Policing Minister he earns £115,824 a year.
He said his family tradition was to have the heating off from April 1 – but with Britain hit by late Spring snow and ice, he had lit a fire in his fireplace.
Mr Malthouse had been asked directly what other “economies” he was having to make in his household.
He insisted Chancellor Rishi Sunak could act again, but warned the UK had “huge debt” and it would only happen “if the economy allows”.
He said: “He is monitoring it on a daily basis, if he needs to move further in the future, if the economy allows us to do that, don’t forget we’re carrying huge debts at the moment, then I know he’ll look very seriously at doing so.”
Save the Children director Dan Paskins blasted the government’s response – including raising benefits by just 3.1%, half the inflation rate – “isn’t good enough”.
He said: “The rise in energy prices will be devastating for families on low incomes.
“We’ve already seen families having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children.
“These price rises will undoubtedly leave millions of parents wondering how they will be able to cope in the months ahead.
“Unless families are provided with more support, this increase in energy bills will leave more children living in cold and damp homes, going to bed hungry, and missing out on the opportunities they need to grow and thrive.”
One working single mum who remained anonymous told the charity: “I actually feel physically sick. I feel pressurised to work more hours even when I’m already working as much as I can.
“I often do more work after my daughter goes to bed to make the most of the time I have without it affecting her.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted: “I think most people are clear that … the Government really needed to step up in its Spring Statement last week.
“They failed to do so and their response is frankly pathetic on a very, very difficult day for millions of people.
“Energy bills are going up far more than we’ve ever seen on record. People are really struggling and I just don’t think the Government gets it.”
Government minister Kit Malthouse said: “I can’t pretend to you it isn’t tough. It is going to be.”
Labour’s leader urged ministers to examine hiking benefits by the rate of inflation – 6.2% and set to peak at almost 9% – instead of 3.1% now which is a real-terms cut.
As the cost-of-living crisis intensified, the Labour leader said people were “tossing and turning in their beds about how they’re going to pay for this”.
He said people are “seeing nothing from the government”, who “don’t realise” how badly people are struggling.
He added he was hearing of people keeping the heating at 12C as they can’t afford any more.
With UK inflation soaring to 6.2% – its fastest rise in 30 years – millions of households will be worrying about their own finances.
The 2022 cost of living crisis is hitting energy prices, fuel and the cost of food, with the government’s only solution so far to offer all households a £200 loan to help pay off their energy bills – which must be paid back eventually.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement saw him announce a cut in fuel duty, although this will cost the Treasury billions without putting cash back in families’ pockets.
So how will the Spring Statement affect you?
If you need help with the cost of living crisis, we’ve put together a list of charities and schemes offering advice and grants to keep you and your family warm and fed this year.
But asked if benefits should rise in line with inflation, Mr Starmer stopped short of giving a guarantee that they would under a Labour government.
Instead he told Sky News:: “I think we’ve got to look at it for that very reason because otherwise people fall behind.
“That’s what we wanted to see from the Government last week, that’s what we didn’t see from the Government last week.
“Frankly, if the Government put a package on the table that Parliament could agree we could get on with this.
“But the Government just doesn’t get the scale of the problem for millions and millions of people.”