Tag Archives: inflation

5 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • NHS waiting lists: Sunak must reverse cuts to spending
  • OECD Report: UK set for highest inflation levels in G7
  • PopCon event: Blue Wall voters will look on with horror
  • Sunak’s broken promise: NHS waiting lists won’t fall back to pre-pandemic levels until 2030
  • Keegan gives government “good” Ofsted while children taught in crumbling classrooms

NHS waiting lists: Sunak must reverse cuts to spending

Responding to Piers Morgan’s interview with Rishi Sunak, where he admits he has failed to cut NHS waiting lists, the Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

Finally Rishi Sunak has admitted he has failed to cut NHS waiting lists, leaving millions of

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Inflation figures “cold comfort” – Olney

So that’s all fine then. Inflation has fallen to 4.6% and Rishi Sunak is a hero for delivering on his promise?

Err, no.

The champagne corks popping in Downing Street are a bit premature and research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats  shows why.  Commons Library and Liberal Democrat research shows that average earners have seen their annual wages eroded with a real terms cut of almost £700, the equivalent of a 3p rise in Income Tax.

Our Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Rishi Sunak congratulating himself over today’s figures will be cold comfort for all the hard-working people still bearing the brunt of this Conservative chaos.

For months on end, people across the country have been watching as their pay cheque gets squeezed from all sides, draining every spare penny. From the ever-increasing cost of the weekly shop to skyrocketing mortgage payments.

Enough is enough. With next week’s Autumn Statement the Government must properly help families and pensioners struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and give our NHS the funding it desperately needs.

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20 September 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Latest inflation figures will be “of cold comfort”
  • Liberal Democrats call for increase to apprenticeship pay as dropout rates soar
  • Davey: Sunak is trashing the economy of the future
  • Over 1,000 sewage leaks in armed forces’ accommodation
  • Davey: This is not leadership from Rishi Sunak, this is putting the UK at the back of the queue

Latest inflation figures will be “of cold comfort”

The latest inflation figures show that inflation has fallen slightly to 6.7% from 6.8% in August. Responding to the news Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

This news will be of cold comfort for families across the country still struggling with sky high prices and mortgages because the Conservatives have crashed the economy.

Ministers still simply haven’t got a clue how to protect hardworking people’s wallets during the cost of living crisis.

Rishi Sunak should not pat himself on the back whilst this crisis carries on, the Government must do more.

Liberal Democrats call for increase to apprenticeship pay as dropout rates soar

Apprenticeships in shortage occupations have fallen by up to 73%, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats reveal, while in some sectors three in four apprentices are dropping out before completing their course.

It comes as the party is set to adopt proposals to increase pay for apprenticeships to at least the minimum wage, as part of a new industrial strategy being unveiled at its Autumn Conference this weekend.

A collapse in new apprenticeships is contributing to the crippling skills shortages affecting British businesses, making it even harder for them to fill vacancies. House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows that sectors listed in the Government’s official “shortage occupation list” have seen particularly stark falls in apprenticeships.

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Ed Davey calls for action to help those struggling with rising bills

As inflation falls to 6.8%, Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey appeared on Sky News this morning to give our party’s reaction:

While it was positive news that prices aren’t using quite so fast, he said, but they are rising fast,  faster than they are in many other countries and faster than they have for many, many years.

Families and pensioners when they go and do their shopping, when they get their energy bill, when they pay their mortgage, their rents, they are still seeing them go up by huge amounts. And what is worrying Liberal Democrats today is that this month’s inflation figures will be used to calculate rail fares for next year and we are calling for a freeze as some way of helping people who are really really struggling.

Challenged that the Government has to balance the books, Ed said that we always do balance the books and go to the country with a fully costed manifesto, compared to the Conservatives who have been reckless with Government money and that’s why the country is in such a mess.

I listen to Conservative ministers and they seem so out of touch with the realities that most families and pensioners are facing. When we talk about these sorts of figures they seem quite complacent and give themselves a pat on the back when families are really struggling out there. I just want a Government that seems to care a bit more and this lot just don’t.

Let’s just pause a minute there. This “families and pensioners” phrase irks me a bit. It isn’t quite as bad as the awful “hard working families”, but it completely ignores a huge swathe of people who are struggling just as much as the soft Tory voters in the blue wall seats we are going after. They like the “families and pensioners” language because it has a comforting ring of deserving poor about it but that’s no excuse.

We need to make sure that the young people struggling to get by on low incomes, earning less and getting less in benefits despite living costs being just as high feel included, or the growing number of single person households with only themselves to rely on.

What’s wrong with just using people? Our mission as Liberal Democrats is to build a fair, free and open society where NO-ONE is enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity and our language should reflect that universality. We have so many good ideas that would help all people who are struggling so it seems a shame to limit our language.

Rant over and back to the interview. Ed was challenged that our plans to help people were not realistic. He said:

The real world is that the economy is struggling and we need to get people back to work. If you took up Liberal Democrat ideas to boost the economy, you would get more people using public transport which is more important for our economy, for the environment and so you have many benefits.

I just think the Government is so out of touch. They don’t seem to get how the combination of  price rises, mortgages, rents, energy bells railway fares, is hitting people.  We’ve calculated that a commuter family is going to be clobbered by an extra bill of £300 every month due to the combination of mortgage, food and rail fares. This is a huge amount and when I hear government ministers saying they can’t do anything. They could do something but they don’t. The fact that they don’t backs up my argument that they are out of touch and don’t care.

He was asked whether the energy price cap should be rethought as it harmed competition:

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7 June 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Police using 200-year old legislation to arrest hundreds of children for rough sleeping
  • OECD inflation prediction: This is a damning verdict on the Government’s economic record
  • Bike theft faces being ‘decriminalised’ as nearly 9 in 10 thefts go unsolved
  • Johnson “hosted friend” at Chequers: Public sick of subsidising ex-PM’s legal fund

Police using 200-year old legislation to arrest hundreds of children for rough sleeping

Data uncovered by Layla Moran and the Liberal Democrats through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that police forces across the country have arrested 433 children over the last 5 years using the Vagrancy Act.

The FOI asked police forces how many under 18’s had been arrested and charged under the Vagrancy Act over the last 5 years.

Of the 43 forces in the UK, 20 had arrested children. The worst offender was the Metropolitan Police Force in London, which has arrested 152 children in the last 5 years.

One police force, Derbyshire, arrested a 13 year old.

The Vagrancy Act is a piece of 200-year-old legislation which makes it a criminal offence to sleep rough.

In 2022 campaigners succeeded in repealing the legislation in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, but the repeal is yet to come into force in practice. The government claim they need “appropriate replacement legislation” before the repeal comes into force. A public consultation into replacement measures closed in May 2022, but the findings have not yet been published.

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11 May 2023 – yesterday’s press releases

  • TransPennine: Another broken Conservative promise
  • EU law bill: Conservative Party “devouring itself” while families struggle
  • Bank of England: If Hunt doesn’t meet inflation target then he must go

TransPennine: Another broken Conservative promise

Responding to the news that TransPennine Express will be brought under Government control, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport in the Lords, Baroness Randerson said:

The Government have been forced to take over another rail company. Passengers are angry that services are being cancelled and the Conservative’s failure to stop industrial action is making things worse.

Years ago the Conservatives promised to fix railway services, promising that the new “Great British Railways” would

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19 April 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Rise in “dental deserts” leaves millions struggling to get NHS dentist appointment
  • Inflation: Deadly price hikes cannot go on any longer

Rise in “dental deserts” leaves millions struggling to get NHS dentist appointment

    Six in ten areas have seen a rise in the number of people per dentist since 2019
  • Some areas have over 3,000 people per NHS dentist leaving people struggling to get an appointment
  • Lib Dem Leader calls for NHS dentist rescue plan to prevent desperate people resorting to DIY dentistry

Over six in ten local areas in England have seen a rise in the number of people per dentist since 2019, new analysis commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The Commons Library research shows how the rise in “dental deserts” has left people struggling to get an appointment, with some areas now having over 3,000 people for every NHS dentist. 65 of 104 local areas in England have seen the number of people per dentist rise since 2019, the figures show.

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28 March 2023 – today’s press releases (Welsh Edition)

  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Launch Plan to Save NHS Dentistry in Wales
  • Interest Rate Rise Signals More Pain for Homeowners in Powys

Welsh Liberal Democrats Launch Plan to Save NHS Dentistry in Wales

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their plans to save NHS dentistry in Wales, warning that unless the Welsh Labour Government takes action now NHS dentistry risks going extinct.

The Party have accused Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay of utterly failing to get to grips with the problem, allowing an appalling two-tier system of dentistry in Wales to flourish whereby if you can afford it you go private, but those who can’t are left waiting in agony for months and sometimes years.

Talking to her party Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds outlined that using her influence to fix NHS dentistry is one of her top priorities in the Senedd.

A previous FOI by the Welsh Liberal Democrats showed that over 800 children in Powys were waiting for an NHS dentist while in Cardiff the waiting list for children and adults is over 15,000 people. Other health boards do not operate centralised waiting lists which the Liberal Democrats state is a problem in itself.

Among the proposed actions laid out in the report, which was produced with industry professionals include:

  • Resolving outstanding contract issues as a priority
  • Integrating primary dental care more closely with other NHS primary care, especially to ensure that services are available in remote and rural areas
  • Increasing per-capita spending from the current £47 to match the levels of Scotland (£55) and Northern Ireland (£57)
  • Setting targets for Health Boards in terms of numbers of, and waiting times for, appointments, empowering them to use salaried staff to achieve those targets as well as entering into agreements with private sector providers
  • Setting up set up a national waiting list system to ensure that the process of getting an appointment is more efficient, and that fewer appointments are lost
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23 March 2023 – today’s press release

Interest rates rise: Sunak’s pledge to halve inflation in tatters

Responding to the Bank of England raising interest rates, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Treasury Sarah Olney MP said:

This news will come as a hammer blow to countless hardworking families.

People seeing their mortgage bills go up by hundreds of pounds a month have been left high and dry by this Government, which sent interest rates soaring with their catastrophic mini budget.

Rishi Sunak’s pledge to halve inflation is in tatters.

The Government could be cutting household energy bills and extending energy support for businesses to help keep prices down. Instead,

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22 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation rises: Proof the Chancellor should have cut energy bills in the budget
  • Windsor Framework: Conservative MPs are mutinous pirates who no longer care what their captain says

Inflation rises: Proof the Chancellor should have cut energy bills in the budget

Responding to this morning’s inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

This rise is just more proof why the Chancellor should have cut energy bills in the budget. Instead he sat on his hands and we are left with rising inflation once more.

People across the country are struggling and the Government has failed totemically to support hardworking families and pensioners.

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15-16 February 2023 – two day’s worth of press releases

  • Welsh Lib Dems Respond to Welsh Dental Report
  • Inflation Stats: Hard-working people are paying the price for Conservative incompetence
  • British Gas profits: A betrayal for customers across the country

Welsh Lib Dems Respond to Welsh Dental Report

Responding to the publication of the Health and Social Care Committee report on dentistry in Wales, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

I welcome the publication of this report and its recommendations. Since being elected I have made securing access to NHS dentistry one of my top priorities and the issue regularly fills my inbox.

NHS dental provision in Wales is not good enough, and this report raises really important questions about the reasons why Labour has allowed a two-tier dental system in Wales to develop, where the rich can go private and everyone else is left languishing on waiting lists.

I am also disappointed to hear that relations between Welsh Government and the dental profession are at a low point when, to deal with both the effects of the pandemic and the longer-term structural problems in NHS dentistry, we need Government and dentists to work together.

Ultimately we need to ensure the resources are in place to fix this problem, including raising spend on dentistry per head to similar levels as Scotland or Northern Ireland as I argued for in the most recent Welsh Government budget debate. By failing to address this issue now Labour is potentially creating a longer-term problem.

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18 January 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation pushing families to the brink and economy to breaking point
  • Hunt video: Mr Bean-esque from the same clueless party that crashed the economy
  • Retained EU Law Bill a “shameless power-grab”

Inflation pushing families to the brink and economy to breaking point

Responding to the news that inflation remains in double digits at 10.5%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

For months and months Inflation has soared pushing families to the brink, bills out of control and the economy to breaking point.

People across the country work hard and just want a fair deal but under this Conservative Government, double-digit inflation is just business as usual.

Struggling families and pensioners deserve more support but the Government’s track record on the cost of living crisis has been nothing short of a failure, hurting millions.

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Davey: Sunak asleep at the wheel

Listening to Rishi Sunak speak today, you wouldn’t think that the country is in the grip of economic turmoil and crisis in the NHS. You don’t have to go far to read of NHS trusts and boards calling major incidents, or London Ambulance saying they will only wait 45 minutes before leaving patients in hospital corridors. Everywhere there are accounts of traumatised, stressed nurses, doctors and patients in A and E departments up and down the country.

It is all very grim.

Sunak’s five priorities would fail the SMART objective test on any work training day.

He could claim he had done them without alleviating much suffering. I mean what does “NHS waiting lists will fall” actually mean for someone who has been told that they can have an appointment for their hernia in mid 2024? What does “the economy will grow” mean? A tiny decimal point which makes no measurable difference? Reduce national debt – to what, how and what will that mean for public services? And a piece of red meat for the xenophobic right about getting rid of asylum seekers. The one specific pledge, to halve inflation, seems to be going to happen anyway according to the Bank of England forecasts.

It’s all very cynical.

Ed Davey was unimpressed, saying:

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Office for National Statistics: Real wages have fallen by 2.7%

Embed from Getty Images


The Office for National Statistics
has reported that “total and regular pay in the UK fell 2.7% when adjusted for inflation in the three months from August to October”.

Responding to this morning’s news, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

This is just the tip of the iceberg with families facing a nightmarish interest rate rise in just 48 hours time.

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been an “interesting” day, to say the least, and there have been so many press releases coming out of HQ that, rather than try to get them into one post, it’s probably easier to do it in two. Think of it as a display of governance and organisation…

  • Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes
  • PMQs: Truss refuses to increase support for carers
  • Fracking vote: Conservative MPs must “show some backbone”
  • Triple lock: Truss dragged kicking and screaming into protecting pensioners

Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today

In response to the announcement of an inflation rise of 10.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

In the midst of this cost of living catastrophe, pensioners and those relying on benefits cannot be undercut and left to struggle further.

Liz Truss must act today to reassure the public and confirm in Parliament that pensions and benefits will rise to match inflation.

Not one penny can be lost, to do so would be gross negligence and failure of our most vulnerable members of society.

Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes

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22 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs
  • Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation
  • Recession: Blame lies with Conservative MPs
  • NHS announcement an ‘A, B, C of failure’
  • Lib Dems table motion to cancel Parliament recess and scrutinise mini Budget
  • Kwarteng growth plan: Shocking admission of Conservative failure

Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs

Responding to the British Geological Survey’s Report on fracking, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The government’s own experts have refused to say fracking is safe. That they choose to plough on regardless shows a callous disregard for our communities and countryside. From Surrey to Somerset, the government are treating people in rural areas like guinea pigs.

The Conservatives obsession with fracking lays bare that they don’t actually think that Climate change is happening and are not willing to take the urgent action needed. They are delaying climate action at every corner. The mask has finally slipped and is revealing Liz Truss and Jacob Reece Mogg as climate change deniers. It is bizarre that this has become their priority, rather than renewables: the cheapest and most popular form of energy.

If people suffer polluted water and dangerous earthquakes, this decision will prove unforgivable.

Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation

Responding to the Bank of England raising interest rates by 0.5%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This a hammer blow to struggling homeowners who are being punished by the Government’s failure to control inflation. This monster rate rise could have been avoided if Conservative Ministers bothered to take action sooner on energy bills and the rising cost of living. Instead, the Bank of England is left with no choice but to hike mortgage costs for millions.

It is first time buyers I fear for the most, who have scrimped and saved for their first house. Tomorrow Liz Truss has to clean up the mess made by this Conservative Government and bailout families and pensioners who will suffer as a result of this mortgage hike. This should start with re-installing an Emergency Mortgage Support Fund which was cruelly scrapped by Conservative Ministers.

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17 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them
  • Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people
  • “Nasty party”: Kwarteng must clarify Truss’s shameful ‘graft’ comments
  • 75,000 A-Level grades set to be deflated under Government’s exam plans
  • Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them

Responding to inflation reaching 10.1% this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Britain is heading for the worst economic crisis in a generation, yet the Prime Minister has clocked off early whilst Sunak and Truss are too busy squabbling amongst themselves.

Families and pensioners will never forgive this Conservative Government for abandoning them in the middle of a cost of living catastrophe.

The answer is staring Conservative MPs in the face but they refuse to act. Energy bills must be frozen immediately or else millions of people will be plunged into financial devastation this winter.

Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people

Responding to the news that Thames Water will enforce a hosepipe ban, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

This is a slap in the face for millions of people when Thames Water is losing a quarter of all their water to leaks.

Their gross negligence to fix leaks is set to inflict hosepipe ban misery across the South. We wouldn’t be in this mess if Thames Water bothered to invest properly. Instead, water companies are choosing to pay themselves billions of pounds in profits and reward their CEOs with insulting bonuses. Thames Water is putting profit above the public and environment.

Ministers are to blame for letting profiteering water companies get away with it. Under this Government, our rivers have become polluted with sewage and water pipes rusting with leaks.

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Lib Dems comment on dire economic news – but we need to say more

This week has had more than its fair share of dire economic news. The prospect of a deep, prolonged recession at a time of soaring prices means that people on the lowest incomes are really going to suffer. Let’s think about what that looks like. It means that people on the lowest incomes will simply not be able to afford the basics that they need to survive. If they don’t face the prospect of losing their home, heating it to an adequate level will be a challenge.  Putting food on the table will be tough.  Even if they just manage to get by, an unexpected car repair bill, or a washing machine breakdown, could be problems that they can’t cope with. It is quite likely that we will see levels of poverty and suffering that we thought were gone for good.

It’s the most terrifying economic landscape since 2008. And with recession comes the prospect of people losing their jobs. We didn’t have energy and living costs on a steep upward curve then.

I remember only too well the recession of the 1980s. That ITN Jobs round up every Friday showing so many jobs being lost every week. Soaring unemployment as, one by one, our key manufacturing industries crumbled.  Remember UB40’s One in Ten?

At that point though the welfare state met more of your living costs if you lost your job. You at least had some chance of getting by. And students could get help with Housing Benefit and could sign on during the long Summer holiday if they couldn’t get a job. Now, benefits are less generous, and woe betide you if you dared have more than two children since 2017 because you won’t be able to claim any Universal Credit for them.

During the 90s recession, I worked in the civil courts in England and it was heartbreaking to see the huge rise in both mortgage and rent possession cases. Each one of those meant that someone was in danger of losing their homes, and many did.

As interest rates rise, so do mortgages. Already high private sector rents are likely to increase as landlords pay more on their buy to let mortgages.

It all seemed terrible back then, but now the prospects and the pressures on incomes are even worse.

Inflation on its own is bad enough but then you have a nearly £1300 rise in energy costs from their already high level from October with the prospect of further rises every three months. If you are on a low income you are more likely to be on a prepayment meter and will find it more difficult to access help while you pay proportionately higher prices.

And all the time prices continue to rise with the Bank of England warning that inflation could hit 13%.

There is not much in the way of respite coming your way. The extra money already announced isn’t going to go very far if you are low paid.

All of this comes at a time when the Conservative Government have been cutting public services for too long. So where councils might have been able to provide much needed help in the past, they are not able to do so now. Advice agencies also need investment so that they can help people find their way through and advocate on their behalf.

Senior Liberal Democrats have been talking about the crisis. Here’s Ed Davey on the news of the energy price cap rise:

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Davey: Inflation at 7% is “frankly frightening”

You might have been forgiven for not spotting one serious piece of news today that was not all about Johnson and Sunak.  It was announced that inflation has risen to 7%, the highest rate in 30 years.

The rise was partially driven by the hike in petrol prices, which of course have a knock-on effect on the prices of all consumer goods, including food.

Ed Davey has been commenting on this to the media in between talking about partygate. He says:

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are too busy trying to save their own jobs rather than saving pensioners and families from spiralling prices.

These new inflation figures are frankly frightening. Every day the cost of living crisis worsens yet our law-breaking leaders simply don’t seem to care. This is no way to govern Britain.

This country needs a new Chancellor in place next week to deliver an emergency budget to protect households on the brink. Pensioners and hard pressed families need urgent help with their energy bill and unfair tax hikes to be immediately reversed. It is now or never to save Britain from this cost of living crisis, and it is clear this Government is not up to the job.

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Christine Jardine: Families need a lifeline to help with impact of inflation

Today inflation reached a 30 year high of 5.5%. Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson called for the Government to take action to help those facing being cold and hungry as a result:

Families are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis, with a triple whammy of spiralling energy bills, Conservative tax rises and 30-year high inflation.

People are worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table, yet all we’ve seen from this Government is half measures and a raft of tax hikes in April. That’s not the leadership people need in this crisis.

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Does “Assume” Make an Ass out of U and Me?

Once upon a time our assumptions about interest rates were that they were always in plural digits. Now we accept near zero interest rates and some accept negative interest rates as normal as they have been around for about a decade.

What would happen if currently “normal” mortgage rates returned to their higher previous “normal” rates? What would happen to car sales and the like if we returned to the “old normal” interest rates? How can people and institutions save when interest rates are nominal and interest fruitful amounts of money are so vulnerable?

With near zero interest rates, is the stock market the only actual vehicle for investment income? Is it reliable for the many?

Another previous normal assumption was that massive money creation would result in inflation/excessive inflation. It hasn’t. (Assuming relevant data is accurate). Can we now assume that the massive use of money trees does not, in practice, affect inflation significantly?

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Inflation sign of Brexit squeeze – Lib Dems

Inflation has gone up to 2.7% today.

This confirms long-held Liberal Democrat warnings about the impact of Brexit, with businesses struggling to contain rising costs and consumer demand being squeezed.

Susan Kramer said:

These worrying levels of inflation show the Brexit squeeze is hitting shopping baskets across the country.

This is the reality of Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s extreme Brexit agenda: higher prices in the shops, the cost of holidays going up and less money for our schools and NHS.

A brighter future is possible. We will give people a choice over their future through a referendum, so they can reject a bad Brexit deal and choose to remain in Europe.

Willie Rennie underlined this point:

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Susan Kramer: Brexit squeeze is hitting families with higher food prices

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer, has reacted to news from the Office for National Statistics that food prices saw the biggest increase for three years in the year to March:

The Brexit squeeze of a falling pound and rising import costs is hitting families across Britain, with higher prices in the shops denting incomes and leaving us all poorer.

This is deeply worrying news for our economy, which has been propped up by consumer spending.

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Lib Dems: Inflation rise hits the poorest

Senior Liberal Democrats have been commenting on the inflation rise today. I have to say that although  0.5% in a month is a lot, it feels like so much more. The prices of so much of my supermarket shop seems to have gone up by a lot more.

In Scorland, our Economy spokesperson Carolyn Caddick said:

Rising inflation shows that the British public are paying the price for Theresa May’s decision to take Britain out of the Single Market. With the pound falling in value by 18% since the referendum, the price of imports have shot up and broken the official target. Every Scot going on holiday abroad is seeing that their pounds do not buy what they used to.

Worst of all, the dramatic leap in food prices is hitting the poorest the most.

The fragile UK economy has been kept on life support by consumer spending, but with prices rising, that is now threatened. If Theresa May should change course immediately, and recognise that you can’t have a hard Brexit and affordable prices.

Our Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer also blamed Brexit, saying that “You can’t have a hard brexit and affordable prices.”

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Susan Kramer says that Government must unfreeze benefits

Back in July, I told a panel on social security at the Social Liberal Forum conference that in the wake of Brexit, a benefits freeze for four years, which was never a good idea, was entirely inappropriate and we should be opposing it loudly.

Analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirms that Brexit is going to hit those on benefits and low incomes particularly hard:

Normally many of those on the lowest incomes would be at least partially protected from the impact of higher prices by the rules that govern the annual uprating of benefits and tax credits. By default, benefit and tax credit rates are (with some exceptions, most notably the state pension) increased each April in line with the annual CPI inflation rate of the previous September – higher prices lead to higher benefit rates (albeit with a lag). However, in the July 2015 Budget the Government announced that, as part of its attempt to cut annual social security spending by £12 billion, most working-age benefit and tax credit rates would be frozen in cash terms until March 2020. This policy represented a significant takeaway from a large number of working age households. But it also represented a shifting of risk from the Government to benefit recipients. Previously, higher inflation was a risk to the public finances, increasing cash spending on benefits. Now the risk is borne by low-income households: unless policy changes higher inflation will reduce their real incomes.

I am glad to see that our shadow Chancellor, Susan Kramer, has now said that the Government must reverse its unfair benefits freeze plans:

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Danny Alexander: More people in work than ever before, earnings now rising in line with prices

speech danny alexander 6Two pieces of good economic news today, as the BBC reports:

UK unemployment falls to five-year low of 2.2m

The number of people out of work in the UK has fallen by 77,000 to a five-year low of 2.24m in the three months to February, official figures indicate. The unemployment rate now stands at 6.9% of the adult working population, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

After six years, wages finally overtake inflation

After nearly six years of falling real wages, weekly earnings have finally edged above inflation. Weekly wages, including bonuses, rose by 1.7% in the year to February, up from 1.4% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Earlier this week, inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell to 1.6%. It is the first time that earnings have been higher than inflation for six years, apart from two months in 2010.

Here’s what the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander had to say:

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Opinion: Inflation the biggest threat to economic growth

Economic commentators and politicians searching for that most elusive of phenomena – economic growth appear to be operating a back to basics approach. The Bank of England takes the traditional neo-classical approach to its role as arbiter of monetary policy – Quantitative Easing and liquidity schemes to expand the money supply and make borrowing cheaper to incentivise businesses to expand. The government are taking a much more Keynesian route to growth, announcing house building schemes and other infrastructure initiatives in order that the state injects the demand into the economy …

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Opinion: Getting radical with the money supply

Last week the OECD forecast that Britain was about to experience a double-dip recession, for the first time since 1975. Vince Cable in his Centreforum paper Moving from the financial crisis to sustainable growth asks “How far should monetary policy now be expanded further in the UK to boost demand and head off a period of poor growth?

He goes on to say “There is no possibility for further meaningful interest rate cuts – real short term rates are now minus 4 percent. That means further recourse to quantitative easing.

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Three cheers for inflation?

Economist and economic historian Nicholas Crafts is back in the public eye with a new pamphlet for CentreForum. Those with long memories of his previous controversial stances won’t be surprised to know this pamphlet does not take a mainstream approach to economic history or economic policy, instead praising part of the 1930s and calling for more inflation.

The two are linked because he splits Britain’s economic record in the 1930s in two, arguing that in the second half of the 1930s higher prices helped fuel a strong economic recovery:

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PMQs: You can’t gesticulate your way out of a Balls-up

He still looks like a clever sixth former to me, but it is fair to say that Ed Miliband has cracked Prime Minister’s Questions. His performance this week was excellent.

“Just a bit late” was David Cameron’s description of Miliband’s raising of the Fox affair. It is easy to understand why Miliband did not raise the subject last week. Labour played a canny game with Dr Fox. They did not call for his resignation and at the last PMQs, Miliband did not ask directly about the issue. This allowed Dr Fox to swing in the media wind, without obvious Labour encouragement. …

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