Cost of living latest updates: 'I eat cereal twice a day' for meals; energy bills will cost two months' wages in 2023, report warns – Sky News

Sky News readers have been sharing their stories of how the cost of living crisis is affecting them; it comes as a new forecast shows bills could top £5,000 next year, with the average household spending £571 in January alone.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said options to provide additional help to people to ease cost of living pressures will be “ready to go” on 5 September – but said it will be up to the new prime minister to take decisions on the matter.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Zahawi said either of the two Conservative leadership candidates – Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – will be able to “hit the ground running” when elected.
But he suggested that Boris Johnson, the outgoing prime minister, will not introduce any new policy to tackle living costs while he remains in post.
Read more here…
A teachers’ union has warned it is committed to balloting its members for industrial action in the autumn if there is no improvement in a proposed pay deal.
The NASUWT said a survey of its members in England and Wales showed overwhelming anger and opposition at plans for a 5% increase.
Seven out of 10 of 9,000 teachers in England surveyed, and four out of five of 700 polled in Wales said the pay award should be rejected as unacceptable.
The union, which has called for a 12% pay rise for teachers, is now finalising its response to the Westminster and Welsh governments’ consultations on pay.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “NASUWT members had been clear in demanding that we reject the imposition of a below-inflation pay award.
“This pay offer is yet another pay cut for teachers which will cause even greater damage to the morale of the profession.
“The government’s proposals fall way short of what teachers are demanding, following a decade of real terms pay cuts and the current cost-of-living crisis.
“Ministers have refused to respond to our calls for proper negotiations and, once again, we are calling on ministers to get around the table to find a solution.
“However, in the event that there is no improvement, the union remains committed to balloting its members in the autumn term for industrial action.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have accepted the recommendations of the independent School Teachers’ Review Body for the coming academic year and are awarding teachers the highest pay awards in a generation – 8.9% for new teachers outside London – alongside a 5% award for experienced teachers and leaders.
“This year’s pay award is a responsible solution which recognises the hard work of teachers and supports with the cost of living, and the sound management of schools’ budgets.
“By contrast, double-digit pay awards for public sector workers would lead to sustained higher levels of inflation, which would have a far bigger impact on people’s real incomes in the long run.
“Funding for these pay awards will come from the generous school funding settlement at last year’s Spending Review.
“The settlement is heavily frontloaded, with £4bn extra going into schools this year and a total increase of £7bn over the three years up to 2024-25.”
A number of rallies will be held by the new campaign group Enough is Enough calling on the government to do more amid rising costs.
The group announced that it would kick off a series of 50 rallies across Britain, with a launch event in London on 17 August attended by senior leaders of trade unions currently involved in disputes.
It comes after trade unions, community groups, tenants’ organisations and politicians came together this week to launch the campaign, which has received 300,000 sign-ups and more than six million launch video views in just three days.
The main demands of the campaign are a “real” pay rise, cutting energy bills, ending food poverty, decent homes for all and “taxing the rich”.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union said: “There’s always another crisis and it’s always workers who pay the price.
“Working people are seeing how a tiny elite want to make their lives all about working harder and longer for less.
“Now that same elite is profiteering from a cost of living crisis that will drive millions into poverty with sky-high bills.
“Things can’t go on like this: it’s time to say enough is enough.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is set to announce further proposals on how to tackle the cost of living crisis on Monday.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Scotland, Sir Keir claimed Labour had been “leading” on the current financial crisis when asked about criticism of him not being more vocal on the matter.
He said: “It was nearly 12 months ago now on energy bills that we proposed insulation of homes, a massive project to bring down the costs.
“In January we said there should be a windfall tax, it took the government five months to catch up with that idea and implement it. We also said that VAT should be taken off energy bills – Rishi Sunak is only just now recognising that Labour got it right again.”
After touching on Labour’s plans for pre-payment meters, the Labour leader added: “On Monday I’m going to be setting out a comprehensive set of proposals, a plan for how we handle the upcoming costs in the autumn.
“What you’ve had from the Conservative Party is two leadership candidates arguing with each other about just how appalling their record in government has been, and a prime minister who’s a lame duck – he recognises there’s a problem and he’s not prepared to do anything about it.
“So, for the best part of 12 months, Labour has been absolutely leading on this issue.”
The summer of strikes continues with the news BT and Openreach workers will stage fresh industrial action.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said around 40,000 of its members will walk out on 30 and 31 August, following two previous strikes.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “It’s disgraceful that one of the UK’s wealthiest and most profitable businesses is refusing to pay a fair wage to its employees – the women and men whose hard work and dedication contribute so much to this company’s success.
“At a time when inflation is at its highest level in decades, and when this company is returning ever-increasing profits, paying out enormous amounts to shareholders and to its senior executive, it’s totally unacceptable to treat the workforce in this appalling way.”
The 31 August stoppage will coincide with a strike by CWU members in Royal Mail in a separate row over pay and conditions.
Today it has also been announced thousands of NHS workers in Scotland have voted in favour of striking (13.28 post) and exam board workers are set to walk out during GCSE results (14.39).
Tomorrow, travellers are set to face more disruption with a series of tube strikes (13.40 post).
Exam board workers are set to strike during crucial GCSE and A-Level periods in a long-running dispute over pay, and fire and rehire.
AQA staff were already due to strike next week but have now scheduled further dates later in the month for industrial action, Unison said.
But AQA accused Unison of making “scaremongering claims”, and said it had “robust contingency plans in place to ensure that industrial action has no effect on results”.
Some 180 workers, including staff in customer services who, Unison said, would normally take calls from schools, parents, and pupils on results day, will take action from August 24 until 28.
GCSE results are set to come out on August 25.
Workers had already been set to strike from Wednesday to the following Sunday – coinciding with A-level results being published on Thursday, 18 August.
Unison North West regional manager Vicky Knight said: “Last year staff were given a meagre wage rise. AQA employees are struggling to make ends meet and simply cannot afford to accept the miserly pay award on offer.
“On top of this, AQA is threatening dismissal and re-engagement if staff don’t accept.
“Threatening the dreadful practice of fire and rehire is no way to make progress in a dispute. AQA managers must come back to the table and discuss a fair resolution.”
An AQA spokesman said: “These are the same, scaremongering claims that Unison keeps making, and that we’ve already proved wrong: we’ve set all our grade boundaries, and yesterday we sent A-level and AS results to Ucas as we do every year. 
“So everything is on track, and we wish all our students well for the results they’ll receive on August 18 and 25.”
On the Sky News Daily podcast, host Niall Paterson talks to the women about life now and in the coming months, and we look at planning ahead for winter with financial expert Gemma Godfrey.
Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Spreaker
Strike action is taking place tomorrow (Saturday 13 August) by train drivers from the ASLEF union – with no service expected at all on London’s entire overground tube network. 
The strike includes train drivers at 10 rail companies: Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Heathrow Express, Hull Trains, LNER, London Overground, Southeastern, and West Midlands Trains.

With household incomes already facing a squeeze, some may be forced to turn to costlier measures – such as taxis – to get where they need to go.
So, can you claim compensation?
Most rail operators will offer compensation if you are affected by rail strikes, but it depends on the ticket you have.
This is done via the Delay Repay scheme – just google ‘delay repay’ and the name of your operator and it will pull up the relevant page.
The length of the delay affects what you are entitled to:
If you are a flexi, or season pass holder, it is calculated as a proportion of your ticket. 
What about the London Underground?
Unfortunately, Transport for London is not offering commuters any form of compensation, as it says commuters have been warned in advance of the impending strike action.
However, it does offer refunds for issues “outside our control” – such as weather conditions, or security alerts – but a strike does not fall into this category. 
Usually, if your service is delayed by more than 15 minutes – or 30 minutes on the overground – you can claim the cost of a single journey, in the form of a voucher. 
Thousands of NHS workers in Scotland have voted in favour of striking over pay, their unions have said.
NHS staff from four of Scotland’s unions have announced plans to strike after rejecting a 5% pay offer from the Scottish government.
The Royal College of Nursing, Unison, Unite Scotland, and GMB members have condemned the offer, and deemed it a “real terms pay cut”. 
Meanwhile, midwives and maternity support workers have threatened to strike over the pay offer, the Royal College of Midwives has said.
Unite Scotland and the GMB have announced that NHS staff are “prepared to strike”.
GMB members rejected the pay offer by 97%.
Unite’s membership of NHS staff work in every pay band across the health service and voted to reject the pay offer by 89%. In a consultative ballot, 77% favoured a walkout.
Sharon Graham, the union’s general secretary, said Unite’s NHS Scotland members rejected the pay offer as it represented a “substantial real terms pay cut” amid an inflation increase of 11.8%.
Union bosses have also highlighted the Scottish Government’s underspend of £650 million, announced in June.
They say it could be used to fund an improved wage offer for NHS staff.
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