Martin Lewis accuses ministers of bid to blame Ukraine war for cost of living crisis

Martin Lewis accuses ministers of bid to blame Ukraine war for cost of living crisis
Money saving expert warns of ‘narrative shift’ – when higher bills and taxes had already put people at risk of ‘starving or freezing’

Money saving expert Martin Lewis has accused the government of trying to blame the Ukraine war for the cost of living crisis – when people were already at risk of “starving or freezing”.

The help website founder leapt on the business secretary arguing that Britons “are willing to endure hardships” as the blowback from the invasion sends fuel and food bills soaring.

Mr Lewis pointed out that bills were already rocketing and people already suffering, saying: “It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

“We are seeing what may be potentially a deliberate narrative shift that effectively says the entire cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine and therefore we all need to make sacrifices and that is not correct,” he warned.

“What has happened in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation. But the rises in energy heating oil, water, council tax, broadband and mobiles, food, National Insurance were all in place before Ukraine.”

Ahead of a mini-Budget in two weeks’ time, he urged Rishi Sunak not to use the “excuse” of Ukraine to argue Britons will must “suck in the cost of living crisis”, adding: “That is not a correct analysis.”

“We are going to see a real increase in genuine poverty in this country, millions of people being thrown into poverty,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“And the only way we can stop that is not by being money saving, and tightening our belts, it is by genuine political intervention.

“We have a spring statement coming and I would urge the chancellor, let’s nip this in the bud, let’s not have people starving or freezing.”

On Wednesday, the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs: “People understand. People are willing to endure hardships in solidarity with the heroic efforts that the people of Ukraine are making.”

However, Britons were already facing the biggest fall in living standards for six decades, with inflation at its highest rate for 30 years before the invasion.

The energy price cap was already set to soar by almost £700 to nearly £2,000 a year – with only very limited help announced by the chancellor.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson rejected calls to offer more help on energy cost, as Labour warned that war in Ukraine could force a further £1,000 spike in household bills this autumn.

The food campaigner Jack Monroe that the cost of living crisis is “going to be, in some cases, fatal” for some poor people, adding: “And that’s not a term that I use lightly.”

Mr Lewis echoed the fear, saying “I no longer have the tools” to help people with huge energy bills, adding: “This is going to be for Rishi Sunak to solve.”

On future energy bills, he said: “We are one month through the six month analysis period for the October price cap. If things continue as they are, the price cap in October will be over £3,000 a year.”

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