Blog: The time to act on the cost of living is now, prime minister

Millions of working people have been failed by this government for too long, as Liz Truss takes over from the self-aggrandising, debasing Boris Johnson

Christina McAnea adressing local government conference

Liz Truss believes Boris Johnson was a marvellous prime minister – and he agrees with her. I watched the news in disbelief as the shamed, outgoing PM made his self-aggrandising, final farewell speech from the steps of Number 10.

How could he be more concerned with his memories of space-hoppers and his own future career than showing remorse for the trail of crises that he leaves behind him?

His debasement of the integrity and probity of the highest public office in the country was only confirmed with his departing words.

How could he possibly claim that social care has been reformed? That is a blatant lie. With over 160,000 vacancies and care homes at risk of closure because of soaring energy costs, the sector is in a worse state than when he took office.

And this is just one sector where the cost of living crisis, the energy crisis and the cost of working crisis are biting hard. 

We know that out-of-control inflation and this crisis is driving many public service workers to make incredibly difficult choices – skipping meals, cutting back on essentials, taking on second jobs, or considering leaving the public sector altogether.

Working people and the services they deliver – which we all we all rely on – are on their knees. Pensioners, too, are already struggling to make ends meet, and are fearful for the future.

It’s why we are ramping up our cost-of-living campaign and it’s why over 15,000 of our members wrote to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak during their leadership campaigns calling on them to take urgent action.

Now she has become Prime Minister, Liz Truss has the chance to get the government back to governing.

She could address the income inequality in the country and turn the fates of millions of working people around. She could also put the right support in place to ensure pensioners can cope with the escalating cost of living. But only if she makes the right political choices.

UNISON is calling on Liz Truss and her new cabinet to take urgent action. They must scrap her planned tax cuts that will only benefit the wealthiest and instead increase tax on the highest earners.

They must also give immediate relief to households across the country who are struggling with bills and living costs; deliver a genuine, above inflation pay rise for public service workers, and increase the minimum wage to £15-an-hour.

Higher pay is one of the answers to the cost of living crisis – Liz Truss said it herself in May of this year. For pensioners, they need financial support until the State pension can be properly uprated.

While I have very little faith that another Tory prime minister will offer anything different, I hope she will deliver on our asks, because millions of working people have been failed by this government for too long.