April 12, 2022 | 2 minutes read | Tags: Class struggle in Britain

The Cost of Living in Sheffield

JC talks about their experiences of the cost of living crisis driving more and more people, previously on the edge of subsistence, into the care of charities like the food bank as fuel poverty soars.

The Cost of Living in Sheffield

As a food bank manager in one of the poorer estates in Sheffield, I’m absolutely terrified about what the cost of living crisis is going to mean for the people forced to rely on a charity for what should be provided by the state. Already, in the past year, we’ve seen the number of people relying on our food bank per week for their own subsistence go from around 150 to over 300 on certain weeks. That’s a 200% increase in people that cannot survive in the British capitalist state; the 5th richest economy in the world in 2022 (GDP)[1]

Higher up the food bank charity there are already talks going on about how local food banks are going to have to ‘streamline’ services, making sure that food ‘gets to those in most desperate need;’ yet another iteration of the deserving and undeserving poor, most prevalent in societies that are collapsing into decay. In reality, the food tends to go to those who know how to use the system – particularly those with internet access – and to those who are English speaking and literate, leaving behind many refugees, street-homeless people and those who are cognitively diverse.

Food banks are just one terrible symptom of the inability of capitalism to deal with a cost of living crisis; they (and other charities) are relied upon more heavily than ever but can only ever perpetuate the need that should be fulfilled by the government. The cost of living crisis has driven more and more people, previously on the edge of subsistence, into the care of charities like the food bank as fuel poverty soars.[2]

Yet the Tories propose still further cuts and shrug their shoulders at the rising prices of fuel, now even blaming the crisis that has been ongoing for many years on the war in the Ukraine.[3] Whilst such factors do, of course, have an effect on price, the rising cost of living has been ongoing for some time and was being discussed well before the war.[4] What we are actually seeing is capitalism in crisis, squeezing the working class for as much profit as possible.

The government's reaction to the crisis is as clear as day. More cuts. More repression. More police power. Fascism and decay. This decay is in fact so significant, that even those who are employed now face the prospect of being unable to meet the cost of living, as wage-growth trails behind it.[5]

Red Fightback recognises that there are only two options facing the working class in Britain today, as decay strips away social democratic concessions. For me, personally, as I sat with one of those people at the local food bank unable to afford the gas to cook even a tin of beans, eating them cold from the tin, those two options were as clear as they possibly can be; socialism or extinction.

  1. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects (imf.org) ↩︎

  2. Rising cost-of-living "exacerbating" fuel poverty crisis | Fuel Bank Foundation ↩︎

  3. Rising cost of living in the UK - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) ↩︎

  4. The cost-of-living crisis is going to upend British politics in 2022 | Aditya Chakrabortty | The Guardian ↩︎

  5. Cost of living: 'My pay isn't keeping up with rising prices' - BBC News ↩︎