15 March 2022

Living at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis

Josh Chown and Millie Dessent of the national young members' committee explain how the cost of living crisis, low pay and the National Insurance rise is impacting on them, and why they have voted "yes" in the ballot.

Josh Chown is vice chair of the national young members’ committee and organiser of his branch.

I’m a 25-year-old apprentice working in Westminster and I’m in my second year working in the civil service. I joined after a couple of years working in retail where I had annual pay rises and bonuses. At first, I was better off financially with my new job, but this is looking to be less and less the case as the cost of living crisis bites.

Like many other young members, I’ve been struggling to save so I can afford to move out of my parents’ house. My partner and I are now having to extend our search wider and wider to find somewhere we have any chance of affording, while still helping to support my retired parents financially with their rapidly increasing utility bills.

We’re now also being expected to return to the office this week. While it’s only twice a week, that’s still a whopping £90 a month or over £1000 a year just to take the train to do a job in an office that I’ve been doing perfectly well at home!

Now with the wider rising cost of living, things will become even more of a struggle. While many of our private sector friends are getting pay rises in line with inflation, the government is making it clear the only way we’ll be able to get that is by organising. I voted yes in the national ballot to make my voice heard, to demand a reasonable 10% cost of living pay increase.

Millie Dessent is regional young members’ convenor in Wales and works for the Welsh Government.

As young members we are at the sharp end of this cost of living crisis: extortionate rent in poor quality private housing, soaring energy bills and forced to spend the highest proportionate of our wages of all age groups on basic household essentials.

And we’re then blamed by those like Kirstie Allsopp – the daughter of a Baron - for struggling under a system that fails us. [She suggested that young people could buy their first home if they tried harder e.g. cancelling Netflix subscriptions]

Now we see the government pinch us further with the rise in National Insurance and refuse to raise our wages in line with the costs that just keep on piling up. I voted yes in the national ballot to demand a reasonable 10% cost of living pay increase and in wider solidarity with all young members in the face of crisis.