The cost of living crisis in Devon

Spiralling energy costs have been compounded by the dual challenges of older housing stock and “extreme weather”.

The South West has a large number of elderly people, who are on a fixed income which is now being eroded by “unprecedented cost spikes”.

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According to the Mail this week, the ‘cost of living crisis’ will bite deep:

‘Britons are on the brink’: Inflation soars to 40-YEAR high of 9% as pump prices hit new record and Pound dives – with food costs ‘apocalypse’ and interest rates ‘certain’ to rise.. but Rishi warns he ‘can’t protect people completely’ despite tax cut calls

Inflation soars AGAIN to 9% – the highest since 1982 | Daily Mail Online

And it will bite deepest amongst the poorest:

Fury as minister says people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis can work longer hours | Daily Mail Online

Poorest UK households facing highest inflation rates as cost of living crisis deepens – as it happened | Business | The Guardian

Particularly across the South West:

Stuart Elford, chief executive of Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: “My concern is that when inflation affects individuals in a tight labour market like this, those individuals pass on the cost to their employers by seeking higher wages, which in turn puts prices up and we see an exponential rise in inflation. Business is already reeling from Brexit and the pandemic and this will sadly be the end for many businesses. We are calling on the Chancellor to hold an emergency budget to tackle this issue.”

Tim Jones, chairman of South West Business Council, said inflation was hitting firms in the South West, diminishing the spending power of consumers and, due to many of the region’s firms being at the production end of the supply chain, could make the region one of the worst hit . He said: “The inflation figures are extremely worrying for the South West. A lot of the additional costs, such as fuel and energy, are disproportionately affecting local businesses and manufacturers.”

He said the South West has a large number of elderly people, who are on a fixed income which is now being eroded by “unprecedented cost spikes”. He said rising prices for essentials also hinder the discretionary spending power of consumers, especially in a leisure and hospitality region such as the South West. He said: “It’s adversely affecting discretionary spending – a real problem.”

Warning that thousands of Plymouth households face ruin as prices soar – Plymouth Live

The South West also fares badly in other areas – as covered by Parliament’s own house magazine:

Around Britain people are pinching the pennies as the cost of living crisis spirals. While there are common causes of pain, some areas are faring worse than others, and many face unique challenges due to their geography, demography, or a combination of the two. Here, six MPs explain what the crisis looks like in their constituencies. Interviews by Georgina Bailey.

Transport travails in the West Country

Selaine Saxby, Conservative MP for North Devon, says that in her rural constituency long journeys and older properties all add to the consumer cost

In North Devon’s beautiful countryside, cars are a lifeline. “It’s a big constituency, and we have very little public transport; active travel isn’t really an option for most people. Therefore, people are very reliant on their cars,” says the local MP Selaine Saxby. “The journeys that we make are longer; it’s not just a mile into town, for many people, it is five to 15 miles to the supermarket.” Information presented to Saxby by Lloyds Banking Group showed her constituency in the top 20 per cent for spending on fuel, despite being near the bottom third for overall spend. Before the recent spike in prices, spending on fuel in the area had already increased by 34 per cent between 2020 and 2021.

Spiralling energy costs have been compounded by the dual challenges of older housing stock and “extreme weather”. “For a lot of houses that are that bit older, it is quite difficult to properly insulate unless you’re in a position to replace windows, or cavity walls and those bigger ticket items,” Saxby says. “We have some very pretty, older cottages which – having grown up in one myself – are very hard to insulate. If they are Grade-II or Grade-I listed, it becomes almost impossible.”

   
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