What The Cost Of Living Crisis Will Mean For You, In Real Terms

Campaigner Jack Monroe has broken down exactly how this will affect your food bill.
The cost of living crisis, caused by rising food prices and energy bills, is a growing worry for many families
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The cost of living crisis, caused by rising food prices and energy bills, is a growing worry for many families

The cost of living crisis has become a pressing concern for millions this winter – but what exactly does that mean, in real terms?

Chef and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has repeatedly explained just how this means your bills are going to be looking much larger than they did a decade ago – and this change won’t be matched by most people’s bank balances.

Rising food prices and soaring bills

“A basic food shop has doubled” in the last decade, according to Monroe.

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Monroe said: “I did a £10 food shop in 2012 for the Sunday People and re-did the exact same shop over the weekend and it came to £17.11.

“Now benefits haven’t doubled in that time, wages haven’t doubled in that time so people are being forced to buy less, and eat less and consume less.

“It’s the people who aren’t represented in the media, and who don’t have a voice, who are just having to make these absolutely terrible decisions, missing meals in order to feed their children or because they simply can’t afford to eat anymore.

“It’s a shocking thing to be talking about it one of the richest economies of the world.”

According to Citizen’s Advice, one in five people have already cut back on the food shop or turned off the heating to save money.

The charity also found that one in 10 families will be facing financial crisis this winter.

Adviser from Citizens Advice Manchester, Aasia Majid, said: “It’s a choice of which bill to fall behind on each month; a choice between the risk of eviction or being cut off.”

Why does this disproportionately affect poorer households?

In a Twitter thread which went viral last week, Monroe went through individual food items and explained how there had been a 344% price increase for basic items such as rice in supermarkets.

Baked beans were 22p, and now are 32p, canned spaghetti was 13p, now 35p and bread was 45p, now 58p.

Monroe flagged the practise of “making products smaller while keeping them the same price” is also happening to basics products such as mushrooms.

More than a third of people are worried about paying their bills this winter, too – and nearly half of those people are on low incomes, according to Citizen’s Advice, while one in 10 anticipate accessing crisis support this winter (meaning food banks or fuel vouchers).

For comparison, Monroe pointed out that more expensive items such as Dine In For £10 (available at M&S and Tesco Finest) have remained £10.

If these luxurious meals had increased in price at the same rate as the basics, they would now cost along the lines of £34.40.

The campaigner said an upmarket ready meal range was £7.50 10 years ago, and is still £7.50 today.

As Monroe pointed out: “We’re either all in this together, or we aren’t. Spoiler: we aren’t.)”

They added: “The margins are always, always calculated to squeeze the belts of those who can least afford it, and massage the profits of those who have money to spare.

“And nothing demonstrates that inequality quite so starkly as tracking the prices of ‘luxury’ food vs ‘actual essentials’.”

Is this echoed in inflation?

The campaigner flagged the problem in measuring the way inflation impacts people’s way of life too, tweeting: “The system by which we measure the impact of inflation is fundamentally flawed – it completely ignores the reality and the REAL price rises for people on minimum wages, zero hour contracts, food bank clients and millions more.”

Monroe called for more people in the media to “actually check in with anyone out here in the world to see how we’re doing” with the rising cost of living.