'Do something to help,' CBI chief tells Sunak as millions of Brits forced to skip meals

17 May 2022, 08:02 | Updated: 17 May 2022, 09:09

By Will Taylor

Millions of Brits are skipping meals to cut back spending in the cost of living crisis.

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Families are struggling to afford food and pay for soaring energy bills, forcing them to use the gas hob for heating or telling children to go to bed as soon as they get home so they can keep warm.

Tony Danker, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, demanded Rishi Sunak intervenes now to help the worst affected in the crisis.

"One thing I don't think we can accept are people skipping meals," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"We know in downturns, we know in tough economic times, everybody turns off the lights, and everybody takes cautionary measures to slow down their spending.

Read more: 'Helpless' Bank of England Governor warns of 'apocalyptic' food price rises

The CBI called on the Chancellor to help the hardest hit
The CBI called on the Chancellor to help the hardest hit. Picture: LBC

"But what we are calling on today is those people, and some estimates say it's as many as one or two million people, who have started skipping meals, that's just a level of hardship that's unacceptable.

"So we're saying to the Chancellor, step in now to support those people. We're not calling for mass tax cuts across the economy, we're not calling for an emergency budget right now, we're saying look, do something to help the hardest hit.

Squeezed Brits face soaring costs
Squeezed Brits face soaring costs. Picture: Alamy

"At the same time, what can we do now to make sure that if we do have a slowdown, if we do have a cost of living crisis for everyone, it's slow and shallow."

He said the challenge was to effectively slow down the economy without bringing it to a standstill, comparing it to learning "clutch control" when you start learning to drive.

Findings by the Action for Children society said families were struggling to afford food, school uniforms and heating, using one gas hob to try and heat a room.

Read more: Martin Lewis 'loses rag' as he blasts energy price cap changes as 'f***ing disgrace'

In one case, a parent said she had to put her toddler in bed with their tea to keep warm, while another child had to take days off school after suffering chilblains from their cold home.

The Government has pointed to its £22bn spend on helping people pay their bills, including a £150 council tax rebate, and cutting fuel duty.

An ONS graph with the comprehensive measure of inflation, the consumer prices index and the owner occupied housing index
An ONS graph with the comprehensive measure of inflation, the consumer prices index and the owner occupied housing index. Picture: Office for National Statistics

There was also a bleak warning about food prices from the Governor of the Bank of England on Monday.

Andrew Bailey told MPs: "The main driver of inflation and what brings it down is the very big, real income shock which is coming from outside forces and, particularly, energy prices and global goods prices.

"That will have an impact on domestic demand and it will dampen activity, and I'm afraid it looks like it will increase unemployment."

He said he felt "helpless" but defended the bank's monetary policy.

Mr Bailey said he felt helpless over the crisis
Mr Bailey said he felt helpless over the crisis. Picture: Alamy

And the £570,000-a-year governor added that people on big pay packets should "think and reflect" before asking for a big raise, in order to curb inflation.

The Office for National Statistics said inflation was at 7 per cent in March and is expected to say over 8 per cent inflation was seen last month.

The Bank of England expects to see inflation peak at 10.25 per cent in the last quarter of 2022.

Labour wants it to implement a windfall tax on big profits taken by big energy firms, which Mr Johnson has previously urged caution about implementing, but refused to rule out.

Asked if more help was on the way, he told LBC last week that "there is more coming down the track… July and so on", but did not go into detail.

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