The Conservatives have been criticised for being "missing in action" during the cost of living crisis (Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)
The cost of living crisis is causing more national concern by the day – so people have started to come up with their own solutions.
Downing Street’s inaction has led to accusations that it is a “zombie government” right now, especially as the two leadership hopefuls continue their in-fighting while Boris Johnson enjoys his second holiday in two weeks.
The government did unveil its cost of living support scheme earlier this year (and is supposedly working on another), but, as MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewispointed out, urgent action is needed to help the average household.
In October, annual bills are expected to rise to £3,582, before reaching £4,000 by January. Meanwhile, inflation is at 10.1%, the first time it has been in double-digits since 1982, and is expected to reach 13.3% later this year.
To make matters worse, the Bank of England is expecting a long recession lasting over five quarters to hit soon.
The Labour party has come up with the popular policy of freezing the energy price cap at its current levels, but as its in opposition right now, it’s not clear if it will become government policy any time soon.
So, unsurprisingly, people both in and out of the main political parties have been coming up with their own ideas – although it doesn’t look like they’re all keepers.
Here’s a look at the most promising suggestions, both big and small..
1. Free school meals
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the government to offer free school meals to primary school children to ease the pressure on parents and carers.
The combined crises of cost of living and extreme weather are making food prices even steeper.
I’m calling on the Govt to provide free school meals in primary schools for all children to help ease the pressure on parents and carers. No child should go hungry. It’s that simple.
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) August 17, 2022
2. Paying freelancers on time
TV critic Scott Bryan pointed out that employers can make a substantial difference by paying freelance workers on time.
If you deal with freelance workers, the greatest thing you can do during the cost of living crisis is to pay them on time.
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) August 17, 2022
3. Providing support for the poorest and middle income earners
Author Edwin Hayward called for a focus on both the poorest households and those middle-income earners, so that the wider economy can stay afloat.
The government MUST help the poorest through the energy and cost of living crisis.
But if it doesn't help those on middle income too, the wider economy will be destroyed.
Why? Because their loss of disposable income means they no longer spend in millions of service businesses.
— Edwin Hayward 🦄 🗡 (@edwinhayward) August 17, 2022
4. Supporting foodbanks
Manager of Bradford Central foodbank Josie Barlow told Times Radio that donations and volunteers were the two most important ways the general public can help.
💪 Want to support foodbanks through the cost of living crisis?
📻 Donations, volunteering, and more - @MattChorley asks foodbanks around the country on #TimesRadio how YOU can help right now. pic.twitter.com/Du2sXkVjHP
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) August 17, 2022
5. Public ownership
The Green Party have called for public ownership over five big energy firms so that the energy price cap can be pushed back to last autumn’s level. It would fund this through a tax on the very wealthy and a tougher windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
💚 Greens offering the real solutions to the cost of living crisis
📣 Public ownership allows public accountability for these companies
🌱 A wellbeing economy is not a nicety, it is a necessityhttps://t.co/4noLSQXQ0S
— Dylan Lewis-Creser ✊💚 (@CreserDylanPol) August 17, 2022
Then, there are the ideas and policies which seem particularly unpopular, considering the current crisis...
1. Introducing license plates for bikes
Transport secretary Grant Shapps’ suggestion to introduce more legislation for cyclists on the roads – including license plates – went down like a lead balloon. It was criticised by The Guardian’s Alex Hern for adding “significant extra costs and burdens on the cheapest form of mid-distance travel”.
As well as being unworkable, disproportionate, and malicious, worth noting that the proposal to require license plates for bikes is also a proposal to add significant extra costs and burdens on the cheapest form of mid-distance travel in a generational cost of living crisis
— alex hern (@alexhern) August 17, 2022
2. Criticising welfare budgets in Scotland
Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak attacked the upcoming increase in welfare budgets in Scotland (it’s set to rise by 50% over the next five years).
Columnist Kirsty Strickland pointed out: “Welfare spending should be a top priority for any government.”
Rishi Sunak: “The welfare budget in Scotland is increasing by 50% over the next five years. That is wrong.”
We’re facing a cost of living emergency and heading for a winter of unimaginable hardship and suffering. Welfare spending should be a top priority for any government.
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) August 16, 2022
3. Cutting down on food
A Telegraph article explaining why everyone would benefit from “feeling the odd hunger pang”, was not actually hooked to the cost of living crisis. But, it was criticised for its timing.
Daniel Sohege from Stand For All, human rights advocacy and support organisation, shared his own interpretation of the piece, pointing out that it wasn’t the best idea to promote skipping meals during the current climate.
"You don't need to eat" is the response we should have been expecting to the cost of living crisis from the Telegraph. https://t.co/C9fd4hi5Q5
— Daniel Sohege 🧡 (@stand_for_all) August 17, 2022
4. Spending winter abroad
John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times joked that Marie Antoinette – the last Queen of France before the French Revolution – was back after he received an email which suggested spending winter abroad to save on energy bills.
Although it’s not been proven, Antoinette has been associated with saying “let them eat cake” when French peasants were starving.
I see Marie Antoinette has logged on pic.twitter.com/7Yz6sJHq5N
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) August 17, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.