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How many different ways can the Coalition find to shoot itself in the foot?
Today, inflation is the cause of the embarrassment. Just one month after it dropped to its lowest level in three years, the pace of price rises leapt up by half a percentage point, which is well above expectations.
And what’s the reason for this unexpected turnaround? Why, it’s because of the sharp rise in university tuition fees!
They rose by 19.1 per cent after the cap on charges was lifted by the government to £9,000 from £3,375.
In response, the Consumer Price Index rose from 2.2 per cent to 2.7, while the Retail Price Index went from 2.6 to 3.2 per cent.
What does it mean for you?
Well, it’s still September’s rise that is the important one, because it is those figures that part-time Chancellor
Gideon George Osborne uses to work out the rise in benefits, starting next April. He’ll announce the amounts in December, but he’ll be guided by the September CPI rate.
These include Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support, disability benefits, maternity benefits, Incapacity Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Child Benefit.
With inflation rising again, those on benefits are likely to suffer an even greater squeeze on their wallets than is already expected – remember, the bedroom tax and the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’ are both being imposed on us in April 2013.
Energy bill increases, water bill increases, food price rises, and the increase in fuel duty that members of the Coalition dutifully and brainlessly supported only yesterday will add to the agony for the many.
Mr 0 has already announced an intention to squeeze Jobseekers’ Allowance, as he is keen for those in work to see greater reward than those on the dole. Notice that he doesn’t say anything about whether that reward will be adequate to their needs. The living wage is not a factor in this Chancellor’s thinking!
Even last month, when inflation fell, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned that real wage drops mean families have been getting poorer every month for the last three years.
It’s not all bad, though!
Pensions – which are drawn by those who are most likely to vote (and most likely to vote Conservative) – are protected by a government guarantee, and will therefore rise by 2.5 per cent.