Several stall-holders at the Bullring outdoor market have given their view on Rishi Sunak’s latest cost of living package. The chancellor has made a U-turn, agreeing to a windfall tax on energy companies which came under fire for generating high profits while people are struggling to pay their bills.
Sunak has also announced a 90% tax relief for firms investing in oil and gas extraction. He will give people on means-tested benefits £650, and every energy bill payer will receive a non-repayable £200.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) visited the Birmingham markets as shoppers searched for bargains while the sun beat down on the glass-roofed shelter above.
Mo runs a mobile phone accessories shop. Surrounded by Queen’s jubilee bunting, he explained he didn’t think the government’s offering was enough for those who are severely struggling.
He said: “It’s extortion, it doesn’t work out does it? You’ve got to think of the less fortunate, those of us with jobs are OK but what about other people?
“There’s a lot of homeless people around here. If prices go up, benefits should go up too.”
Maxine George (nee Harris) runs J & M Harris Eggs and Cheese Ltd. which her father established in 1958. Offering a generous sample of gooey reblochon, she explained that business owners and shoppers alike are under great pressure.
“Everything is going up across the board, it’s affecting every business in one way or another. Customers don’t understand. They don’t understand why eggs have gone up, they don’t understand why cheese is going up, everything is having an impact.
“Something’s got to be done because it’s just an absolute disaster otherwise. Yes it’s a help but people are struggling, people are genuinely struggling.”
Over at the fabric stall, another trader Mr Khan expressed frustration with the market’s high rent rate and with the government’s approach to supporting business owners. He said: “With one hand they gave us money, and with the other hand, they took the money back. The same thing is going to happen again.”
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