Former PM Brown Warns Millions of Britons Will Go Cold and Hungry This Winter
12:08 GMT 08.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
As chancellor of the exchequer from 1997 to 2007 and then PM until 2010, Gordon Brown oversaw the British economy in the lead-up to the 2008 “Credit Crunch” banking crisis and the subsequent years of austerity policies — increasing the poverty rate across the UK.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that poverty is returning to levels he thought consigned to history as inflation bites.
Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, the ex-leader of opposition Labour Party said he had seen poverty in Fife, his Scottish home town, "that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime."
Brown's assertion was based on local charities collecting duvets, blankets, sleeping bags and hot water bottles "because they know that people can't afford to heat their homes anymore," while religious groups were "thinking of opening their church halls as heating hubs so that pensioners, instead of freezing at home, can have a warm place to go to."
"There's no doubt that people are going to go without food, and they're going to go hungry and cold in October if we don't take action now," Brown warned. "If charities and organizations in the community are taking urgent action to do something, I think it's about time the government responded. The vacuum at the center of government really has got to end."
The UK's embargo on energy imports from Russia over the special military operation in Ukraine has backfired. Inflation hit 9.4 percent in June, while the Bank of England
predicts it could hit 13 percent by the start of 2023.
Energy utility regulator Ofgem raised its cap on household bills by 54 percent — almost £700 per year — in April, and is expected to let firms make another 42 percent
hike in the autumn, potentially adding more than £800 to family gas and electricity costs.
The price of petrol and diesel at the pumps has almost doubled, with a knock-on effect on prices of all retail goods — which were already on the rise thanks to government furlough payments for laid-off workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former PM insisted the crisis was so urgent that the government should be holding meetings of its COBRA emergency committee daily — when the full Cabinet only convenes once per week.
Brown said Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak had "rather stupidly" copied Labour's plan for a one-off "windfall tax"
on company profits to fund relief payments for households.
Sunak, whose resignation as chancellor of the exchequer last month helped force PM Boris Johnson's resignation, hoped to raise £5 billion by taxing record profits made by oil and gas firms as global prices soared amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Brown claimed the tax could raise as much as £50 billion — several times even the Labour front bench's claims
— by removing the "opt-out" whereby companies can claim expenses as rebates.
But Brown may have stretched the bounds of credibility when he insisted that the government should "make way" for current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who he insisted was "going to be a great prime minister."
As chancellor of the exchequer from 1997 to 2007 and then PM until 2010, Brown oversaw the British economy in the lead-up to the 2008 "Credit Crunch" banking crisis and the subsequent years of austerity policies to pay for the taxpayer bail-out of irresponsible lenders.
That left millions unemployed or on reduced household income and lost Labour the 2010 general election after its longest stint in government of 13 years.