The Cost of Living

Posted on April 1, 2022

I find understanding anything beyond basic finance a bit of a struggle. I do know how to stay in the black and out of the red (do the opposite to Bullseye is my theory) and how to make basic profit margins in my business. Beyond that, I get a bit bored, if I am honest.

Fuel for my car is a fine example. I have never indulged in scouring the local garages for great deals, mainly because I can’t be arsed. I have always gone with the notion that when the little needle on my dashboard nudges into the red bit, I need to go to one of those places that pump petrol into my car. If it needs filling up, what else can one do?

Perhaps this is some deep cognitive rebellious response to my dad spending a lifetime wagging his finger at petrol forecourt prices and saying ‘bugger me’ or ‘stone the crows’ as he drives past them? Maybe so, but whatever the case, the cost of petrol has never interested me. Then, the other day, I went into the garage at Tesco’s and watched the dial fizz past one hundred pounds. Fuck, it had never done that before; I was quite taken aback, so I was.

Swings and Roundabouts

I had always accepted that buying fuel is a swings and roundabouts affair, with prices fluctuating when we went in and out of wars, cold winters, economic booms, downturns, and so on. I have long since concluded that I couldn’t go into a garage and say, “No way Jose, I’m not paying that”, so I just paid it. However, seeing it jump by about £25 a tank was a bit of a showstopper.

It alerted me that along with hikes in gas, electric, council tax, and national insurance, we are heading into a period I have not experienced in my working life. If the cost of living goes up, say £20 a month, it just gets lost in the domestic finances system. However, we are talking more like £200 a month. Combined with inflation in supermarkets it’s probably more like £300. That’s no piss in the ocean and I can see it tipping a lot of working people over the edge.

A Clunky Segway

A clunky Segway here, but one of the contractors who works for me, rang me up yesterday asking for a £10 a day uplift on his rate. This is a fair enough question to ask but I explained to him that I have to put that question to my client. My client, I said, is also facing a crisis where he has to feed seven or eight vans with fuel as well as dealing with additional office heating and electric costs. Then there is the hike in raw material prices of up to 40%.

My client then has to go cap in hand to the construction company (their client) who are facing their own difficulties. The construction company has to then go to the end client who are normally a financial consortium or a landlord. It’s a long line of people recalibrating their finances and it often causes a delay or cancellation of a project. I guess this is how recessions start and the person at the bottom doesn’t get the pay rise, worse still, doesn’t get offered a job. This will mean he definitely can’t deal with the increased cost of living. Brutal, I know, but there it is.

Playing With Fire

The chancellor is playing with fire here and I am not sure he realises it? I think he assumes that all households and businesses have a buffer zone in place for such things. He is about to find out that he is quite wrong not to tackle the issue head on with something along the line of VAT reductions or a windfall tax. Even his supporters are in a state of alarm as to what is coming down the road next winter or even before. Fuel hikes of such magnitude could well spiral us into a recession like no other.

Why is Sunak the chancellor anyway? I don’t expect it to be Doris Smith from the village grocery store, running the country’s finances, but what concept of everyday life does Sunak possess? He was born into extreme wealth and has married into a family where offshore accounts with millions of pounds in them, float around the world. What can he know about the finances of the average earner? He is so devoid of normality he waddles around a petrol forecourt with all the confidence of a duck lost in the desert. It baffles me that we would want him as chancellor, it really does.

Turn Down the Heat, Get on Ebay

Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any more ridiculous, there was a woman on the radio this morning, advising older people how to get by. This ingenious idea was for them to cut back on luxuries such as meals out and holidays, whilst turning the heating down a few notches and selling unwanted things on eBay. Life is for living eh, so you might as well enjoy it by selling your possessions, allowing you to make a spag bol, if of course, you can afford to turn the cooker on.

So, during these tough times, will the Tory cabinet lead by example and cut back on their own lavish living standards? Will Boris Johnson cut back on the refurbishments and the parties in an oligarch’s castle? Will they stop lobbing public sector contracts to their donors? Not on your Nelly mate. Of course they won’t, and why would they? The mugs who they perpetually rip off, keep voting for them.

So, again, why would a multi-millionaire with a family loaded with offshore banks, want to become the chancellor of the exchequer for a comparatively paltry £160k per annum? Why would he bother?

Go on, think about it. Take your time, take your time, your money for the meter…that’s safe.

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