Report by Gregg Easteal
A protest has been held outside Chancellor Rishi Sunak's constituency office in Northallerton, urging him to take further action on the cost of living crisis.
Organised by Unite, a union with close ties to the Labour Party, campaigners and those struggling with their bills met on Friday morning (18 March) to hold banners and chant slogans including "Rishi, we can't afford to live".
Among them was mother and universal credit claimant Kerry Wilks from Middlesbrough. She told ITV News Tyne Tees she is plunging into debt and missing bills as a result of rising prices.
Among other measures, she wants the temporary £20 universal credit uplift, which came to an end in October, reinstated.
"[Sunak] hasn’t got a clue about poverty or how people are surviving," she said. "I mean, he’s the richest man in parliament and he’s preaching to me.
"People are working to makes ends meet and they’re still having to use food banks. How can that be right in 2022?"
Leanne Groves from Unite Community added: "We are the fifth richest country on Earth and we can do better. Poverty is a political choice and they're choosing to keep people in poverty.
Meanwhile, the charity Age UK have reported an increase in calls coming from those in need. One of such calls, they say, came from a woman who has taken to riding the bus for hours with her dog because she is unable to afford heating her home.
"As the bills go up, people are having to make choices between food and eating," said Helen Hunter from the North Yorkshire and Darlington branch. "People are struggling."
In response to our approach for comment, a Government spokesperson said:
"We recognise the pressures people are facing with the cost of living, which is why we’re providing support worth £21 billion this financial year and next to help.
"This includes putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families via changes to Universal Credit, freezing fuel duties to keep costs down and helping households with their energy bills through our £9.1 billion Energy Bills Rebate.
“We’re also boosting the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and our £500 million Household Support Fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs."