Cost of living crisis over? Three things the Tory press won’t tell you this week

Recovery. What recovery? asks James Bloodworth.

Recovery. What recovery? asks James Bloodworth

Don’t believe the hype – the living standards crisis if far from over.

Glancing at the papers this week, or turning on the television news, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most Britons are living in a land of milk and honey thanks to the sterling work of chancellor George Osborne. “Cost of living fears groundless,” declared yesterday’s Daily Mail, while according to Guido Fawkes, Labour’s continued emphasis on living standards is “hilarious“.

Their arguments rest on a number of statistical releases that have come out this week – specifically inflation and jobs figures showing – which show that, after six long years, wages are finally catching up with inflation.

Yet in dismissing fears of a cost of living crisis as groundless, conservative commentators have overlooked a number of other recent reports which paint a quite different picture.

1) A third of families ‘one paycheque away from homelessness’

According to a report released on Monday by homelessness charity Shelter, 3.8 million families are currently ‘one paycheque away from losing their home’. A massive third of families say they would be unable to make their next rent or mortgage payment if they were to lose their job this month, according to the charity. As Liz Clare, a Shelter helpline advisor puts it, millions of us people find themselves living on a “financial knife-edge” through no fault of their own. These people clearly aren’t seeing the ‘green shoots’ of recovery.

2) 400,000 people took out payday loans last year

A poll last year for consumer group Which? found that nearly 400,000 people took out a payday loan to pay for essentials such as food and fuel. And in February of this year StepChange, the debt management group, also reported that there had been an 82 per cent increase in the advice they had to give to people struggling with payday loans between 2012 and 2013. The growth in insecure employment – a million people are now on zero-hours contracts and half of the jobs created since 2010 are in self-employment – means that, under this government, payday lenders are here to stay.

3) We’re in the midst of another housing bubble

House prices in London went up by a whopping 11.6 per cent in the past year, and the average price (which currently stands at £458,000) is expected to hit £600,000 by 2018. In London prices increased by a massive 17.7 per cent. As well as making it increasingly difficult for first time buys, anyone who doesn’t think that this rate of house price inflation is even slightly worrying is ahistorical. Even the Economist is concerned.

Recovery? What recovery?

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