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Minister Says Struggling Families Should “Buy Value Brands” To Help With Cost Of Living


3 min read

Environment secretary George Eustice has said families struggling to afford food could switch from named brands to value brands to help “contain” their household budget.

Speaking to Sky News, Eustice was asked how families could afford a chicken Sunday roast amid rising costs. He responded: “Generally speaking, what people find is by going for some of the value brands rather than own-branded products – they can actually contain and manage their household budget.

“It will undoubtedly put a pressure on household budgets and, of course, it comes on top of those high gas prices as well.”

He added that household spending on food in the UK is “actually the lowest in Europe” as we have a “competitive market” made up of multiple large supermarket chains.

“Where it gets harder on things like chicken, poultry and some fresh produce where those increased feed costs do end up getting past through the system because these people work on wafer thin margins and they have to pass that cost through,” Eustice continued.

It comes after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced that prices in shops had risen last month at the fastest rate since 2011.

Prices in store chains rose by an annual 2.7% in April, up from a 2.1% rise in the previous 12 months, in a sign that the cost of living crisis in Britain is worsening. Food prices rose by 3.5% year-on-year, the biggest rise in just over nine years.

"The impact of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April's retail prices," said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

"Non-food products, particularly furniture, electricals and books, have seen the highest rate of inflation since records began," Dickinson added, citing new supply disruption from China which has enacted more COVID-19 lockdowns recently.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that current government measures introduced to tackle the rising cost of living may not go far enough to “immediately” help every family.

But he warned that “we need to be prudent in our approach”, claiming that there was a “severe” risk that inflation could “spiral” if prices were pushed too high.

The PM also dismissed calls for a windfall tax on big energy companies to fund further measures, insisting that would discourage companies from investing in new energy infrastructure. 

“What we're doing right now is helping people with the cost of energy with £9.1 billion that we have put in, with a £350 [council tax] support that we're giving,” the PM said.

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