Cost of living latest: Cheapest supermarket revealed; striking train drivers 'in it for the long haul', union boss warns (2023)

Key points
  • Rail workers on strike for second day - check which services are affected
  • Striking train drivers 'are in this for the long haul', union boss warns
  • Rail pay dispute going 'backwards' as months of talks fail
  • Fears petrol could hit 155p again soon
  • Cheapest supermarket revealed
  • Jason Farrell special report: 'I spent all my savings and now I can't retire'
  • Live reporting by Jess Sharp


Planned strike by ambulance workers called off

A planned strike by GMB ambulance workers in Wales on Monday has been suspended.

The union said it had called off the walkout after receiving a pay offer from the Welsh Government.

Nathan Holman, GMB Welsh NHS lead said: "After intense negotiations, GMB has agreed to suspend strike action while further talks take place.

"We recognise that the Welsh government and Welsh Ambulance have made concessions and, through social partnership, we appreciate the frank and open dialogue with them over the last few months.

"This has only been made possible because the Welsh government has been prepared to talk about pay – a lesson for those in charge on the other side of the Severn Bridge.

"We are a member led union, ultimately they will decide."


Beyonce fans snap up tickets despite cost of living crisis

As discussed here this morning, many families are being forced to make difficult decisions as to what they will go without due to the spiralling cost of just about everything.

While not everyone in the UK is struggling financially - and can continue to spend freely on non-essentials - many others whose resources are less abundant will choose to prioritise outlays that do not involve energy bills, accommodation or food.

They presumably include significant numbers of Beyonce fans have been scrambling to snap up tickets for the UK leg of her first world tour in seven years.

Pre-sale ticket prices for the British shows ranged from £56 to £2,400 - which are believed to have already sold out - with promoters suggesting general availability is already "extremely limited".

This news has unsurprisingly prompted disapproval in some quarters, from people questioning the wisdom of those willing to spend so much on something not crucial to survival.

However, others will suggest that such special experiences and the intangible benefits for the soul that they offer are often what makes the struggles so many are forced to endure for the majority of time just about bearable.


Cost of living crisis helping flat market 'recovery'

One of the key impacts on the property market from the COVID pandemic was on the demand for flats, which fell dramatically as people able to work from home sought to flee big cities for larger homes further afield.

But there is now some suggestion that rocketing mortgage rates and soaring house prices are leading to a renewed interest in apartments, which have become cheaper in comparison.

Roarie Scarisbrick, a partner at the buying agency Property Vision, told The Times: "I think we are seeing the early signs of a recovery now.

"First of all, after recent years where flats looked very expensive in comparison to houses, that is no longer the case. Plus, I think cities, and therefore flats, are enjoying a resurgence for the simple reason that many people realise that cities are great places to live, and part of the reason is that they are much cheaper than living in the country.

"So many of those who moved out to the country during the pandemic do not take into account the cost of things like travel, petrol and train tickets, and oil to heat your house and so forth. It’s massively more expensive living in the country."

(Video) ‘It keeps me awake at night’ - how the cost of living crisis is affecting everyday life


New data suggests food price inflation could ease

As discussed in previous posts, substantial increases in food prices have been a major factor in the cost of living crisis.

However, there appear to be some signs that this situation may be on track to improve.

The United Nations' Food Price Index was down 0.8 % in January - the 10th consecutive monthly decline.

It means the index has fallen 17.9% from the peak it reached in March 2022.

According to the UN, the drop in the index in January was driven by declines in the prices of vegetable oils, dairy and sugar - though those of cereals and meat remained largely stable.


Poorer families eating fewer vegetables to save money

The impact of the cost of living crisis has been far-reaching, with households across the UK forced to decide what to prioritise among their regular outgoings and what to sacrifice.

Research has shown lower-income families are increasingly going without vegetables in an attempt to save money.

A YouGov survey commissioned by Veg Power found that 28% of families with a combinedhouseholdincome of £30,000 or less agreed that energy costs led to less vegetable consumption over the Christmas period.

A total of 20% said vegetable purchasing was reduced to save money, and 20% were buying food treats for the family instead of vegetables due to limited budgets.

Analysis of retail sales from IRI Worldwide supported the findings, showing that people's shopping baskets had become less healthy over time.

Compared to 2018, vegetables' volume share was 7.6% lower than in 2018.

Sweets and snacks were 5.7% higher and alcohol's share grew by 10%.

(Video) Cost of living: Special programme


More low paid staff to be given free travel on public transport in London

Free travel is to be extended to Transport for London cleaners, catering and security staff, it has been announced.

The move has been welcomed by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which said it was in "stark contrast" to the government's plans to force unions to provide minimum levels of service during industrial action.

London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, said around 5,800 of the lowest-paid transport workers would get free travel across the TfLnetwork.

And RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is another step in the right direction by the mayor of London and we're calling on him to extend it to all TfLsubcontracted workers.

"Sadiq Khan's welcome action stands in stark contrast to the Tories who earlier in the week forced legislation through the House of Commons that would remove these workers' right to strike.

"Instead of attacking cleaners, the Tories should be following the Mayor's lead and ensuring all rail cleaners have free travel.

"However, the Mayor needs to do more too. Labour nationally has committed to oversee the biggest wave of insourcing of public services for a generation when it's elected.

"London's mayor is already in power, so we'll be stepping up our campaign for Sadiq to tackle the scourge of outsourcing in TfL, starting by bringing London's Underground cleaners in-house."


Watch: Have previous strikes been successful?

The government wants to restrict strike action as a wave of walkouts continues to take place across almost every sector.

Earlier this week, the UK saw its biggest strike in more than a decade, with around 500,000 workers taking part.

So, how successful has previous strike action been?

We've explored the answer to that question in the video below...

(Video) Cost of living crisis: UK inflation hits 40-year high of 9%


Cheapest supermarket revealed

The cheapest - and most expensive - supermarkets have been revealed.

According to consumer website Which?, Aldi was the cheapest in January - with the equivalent basket of groceries costing £26 more in the most expensive, Waitrose.

A check of 45 popular grocery items every day in January returned the following totals:

1. Aldi - £82.03

2. Lidl - £84.07

3. Tesco - £94.80

4. Asda - £95.32

5. Sainsbury's - £95.65

6. Morrisons - £96.58

7. Ocado - £100.87

8. Waitrose - £107.71

However, as many of us know, while Aldi and Lidl are invariably cheaper for many own brand items and certain branded products, they don't always have the range available in other major stores.

With this in mind, a separate analysis of 144 items in January returned the following list, which does not include the two popular budget supermarkets.

1. Asda - £363.29

2. Sainsbury's - £375.84

3. Tesco - £376.72

4. Morrisons - £379.13

5. Ocado - £392.43

(Video) What Are The Consequences For Not Paying Your Energy Bills? 'Don't Pay UK' Campaign Questioned | GMB

6. Waitrose - £408.72

It comes after food and drink inflation was shown to be at 15% overall across the eight supermarkets in December, compared to the same month a year earlier.


Parking enforcement officers across one London borough to launch month-long strike

Parking enforcement officers in one London borough have announced a month-long strike over pay.

From 6 February until 5 March, the officers for Hounslow will refuse to work.

Hounslow Borough Council stands isolated after Ealing and Brent councils boosted their workers' pay following strike action last year.

The workers are directly employed by Serco, which manages the contract for the London borough.

According to the Unite union, the giant outsourcing company's latest profits were £303.9 million.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: "Serco and Hounslow council's refusal to address the scourge of low pay is shameful.

"The truth is that the London Living Wage is not enough to live on. Serco is hugely wealthy. The council and its outsourcer have the ability to pay workers more.

"The strike will inevitably mean that parking restrictions across the borough will fall apart. Bosses need to realise the workers have Unite’s total support.”


Why your car insurance is going up

The average price paid for motor insurance rose by 8% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a trade body.

The Association of British Insurers said its survey of firms was the only one that looked at the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than the price they are quoted.

It found the average premium paid for private motor was £470 up 8% on the previous quarter and 7% higher compared to the same period in 2021.

Insurers themselves blamed rising costs for the increases, citing the following factors:

  • Energy inflation adding £71.75 to each repair
  • Average paint and material costs have increased by nearly 16%
  • The average paint cost on repair has increased by 20%
  • An estimated 40% of all work is now being affected in some way by parts delays
  • Courtesy car costs to repairers are increasing at around 30%
(Video) Martin Lewis Gives Practical Advice On Mortgages, Energy & Gas Bills | Good Morning Britain


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