Food bank users see little prospect of Johnson’s ‘high wage’ economy

Food bank users see little prospect of Johnson’s ‘high wage’ economy
‘It’s hard to keep your head above the water,’ says a 70-year-old, as prices soar

Soos Boris Johnson roused the Tory party faithful in Manchester with his speech about economic growth and rising wages, 200 miles away food bank users were streaming in.

“Things are more expensive,” said Joan, sitting amid rows of tins, pasta and other produce in Dad’s House, a charity that runs a foodbank in southwest London. “Things are great for people who are working and don’t see all this. Because I never used to see this.”

She started coming to the food bank earlier this year after losing her job as a nanny.

“I used to give things to a food bank. I never used to come here myself," sy het gese.

In his widely criticised speech on Wednesday, the prime minister mentioned the word “growth” six times and twice praised Britain as the fastest-growing economy in the G7.

The Conservatives had “fixed the economy”, he told party members, moments before promising: “We are going to fix this economy.”

He also said the “present stresses and strains” of the economy – labour shortages, soaring household energy costs and warnings over food supplies – were “mainly a function of growth and economic revival”.

But visitors to Dad’s House told Die Onafhanklike the economy is not working well for them.

“It’s hard to keep your head above the water,” said John Krell, who is retired. “We have gas and electric going sky-high.”

The 70-year-old said he has bought a headtorch “like you would wear in the mine” and goes to bed at 7.30pm to avoid putting the lights on.

“What a life," hy sê. “Who would’ve thought that, jare terug."

Azahia Atnane has not been able to find a job. Her husband works part-time as a waiter but would like to be full-time.

“There is no employment," sy sê. Nou, she is bracing herself for the impact of the cut in Universal Credit as its £20-per-week extra – introduced during the pandemic – is scrapped.

Food banks were preparing for a surge in demand as the change in Universal Credit came into force from Wednesday, amid warnings vulnerable people could be plunged into poverty “almost overnight”.

Billy McGranaghan, the founder of Dad’s House, vertel Die Onafhanklike there had already been an increase in users over the past month – ten to 15 more each week.

Among the new users are young people who had lost jobs in hospitality, hy het gesê.

In his Tory conference speech, Mr Johnson said the government was tackling what he described as the UK economy’s “long-term structural weaknesses”.

He said the country was having a “change in direction” with a move to a “high wage, high skill, high productivity” economy.

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