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The Quiet Acceptance of the Cost-of-Living Crisis

Jinan, Central Foundation Girls’ School, UK

As the UK copes with a growing Cost-of-Living crisis, many, like my brother, who casually scrolled past the email about a £28 hike in our water bill, are perhaps too distracted by everyday life to fully engage with the financial strains piling up around them. His fleeting glance at the news of rising costs before switching tabs to check football scores summarises society’s response to recent economic challenges: we moan and moan and then just get on with it, adjusting to new budgets until we are ready for the next price hike.

I moaned at my brother – do you not care that you are paying more and more, and not receiving more and more? Are you not angry at this? He stated how the news did indeed annoy him, but as always, there is little he can do about it.

The Cost-of-Living crisis did not come out of nowhere. It is also not the fault of a public unwilling to work and grow our economy. It has been made worse by several factors, including Brexit. Brexiteers initially argued that leaving the EU would lead to substantial savings and help UK services like the NHS for which we were sold a £350 million-a-week boost. However, years after the EU departure, it seems NHS service quality is the worst it’s ever been with the health service seemingly buckling under the strain of poor patient flow and prolonged waiting times. Junior doctor strikes highlight ongoing salary disputes – should this not raise questions about the allocation of freed-up Brexit cash?

The Cost-of-Living crisis has been deepened by international events such as the war between Ukraine and Russia. While the UK government has committed generous financial support to Ukraine, including a recent £2.5 billion military aid package, critical domestic issues remain largely unaddressed. Amidst pothole-riddled streets, we have companies cutting jobs at unprecedented rates, drastic increases in Universal Credit users and what looks like a low price per litre for petrol now, would have been an all-time high a few years ago. These are reminders of our government’s misplaced priorities in times of need for the people of our country. Amid these economic issues, the use of food banks has surged with over a million emergency food parcels delivered between December 2023 and February 2024. This staggering statistic highlights the country’s growing dependency on such services as more families find themselves unable to cope financially.

The COVID-19 pandemic further strained the economy of our nation. Government initiatives like furlough schemes and business support grants, have led to a surge in inflation. What felt like relief during the pandemic, is now causing strain on the pockets of citizens. What once was a £50 grocery bill at Tesco now often stretches to £100, with no corresponding increase in salaries. Out of control interest rates have caused me to witness a relative losing their home failing to keep up with repayments. As a schoolchild, I often dreamed about a good salary upon graduating from university one day, to have a car, take care of a pet, travel the world. But I now realise the reality of how much it would cost for me just to get by before I can think about anything I want to do.

The Cost-of-Living crisis in the UK is a complex issue that extends beyond economic facts and figures to touch on the weaknesses, misjudgements and faults of those in charge. While global conflicts and pandemics are uncontrollable, the response to issues involving healthcare, infrastructure, and wage changes should certainly be utmost priority to our leaders. It is vital that the public do not settle for the changes as they happen which affect the most important parts of our livelihoods. As the crisis deepens, it is crucial for both the public and policymakers to move beyond temporary frustrations and engage in practical discussions and acFons to mitigate these challenges. As people of the United Kingdom, can we really be complacent to feeling constantly squeezed? Can we just keep going on with being more and more miserable? When are we going to stop being worse off?

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