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#Higher Prices

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In conversation with Jack Monroe

Monroe rose to prominence writing about their struggles to feed their young son with a food budget of £10 a week on their blog ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’. Since then, Monroe has published cookbooks filled with “austerity recipes” and has given evidence in Parliament highlighting the impact of the rising cost of basic food items on people living in poverty.In response to George Eustice’s suggestion that shoppers could “manage their household budget” by changing the brands they buy, they responded that “somebody who claims £196,000 in expenses in a single year is in no position to tell other people to get cheaper biscuits”.Join us for a very special ThinkIn with Jack, where we’ll be talking all about food poverty campaigning, the cost of living crisis, and the inflation of a bag of pasta with their trademark wit and cutting commentary. editor and invited experts David TaylorEditor Jack MonroeCampaigner, Author and Blogger — ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’

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Inflation: what’s really going on?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.With fragile consumer confidence and arguably even more fragile consumers, the last thing the Government needs right now is a persistently high inflation. Despite the bruises it picked up with multiple accusations of sleaze and cronyism, it’s very possible that soaring inflation and the cost of living crisis will be the undoing of Johnson’s government. The latest Consumer Price Index inflation figures have hit a decade high of 4.2% – and if that wasn’t bad enough, an interest rate hike is almost certainly lurking around the corner. The Chancellor’s messaging on this is to reframe it as a global problem of volatile energy prices and supply chain issues, but that doesn’t help families and individuals who, according to figures from Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, will be £1,111 worse off over next year. Inflation is going to stick around for a while, and if Rishi Sunak is right and we can’t do anything about energy prices and supply chains, what’s the political response we need right now? editor and invited experts James HardingCo-founder and Editor Jack LeslieSenior Economist, Resolution Foundation Liam Byrne MPFormer Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2009-10) Vicky PryceEconomist and Business Consultant, Former Joint Head of the United Kingdom’s Government Economic Service

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High taxes, high wages, high prices: what does the Budget mean?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.The day after Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, announces what some people have called his “nightmare budget”, Tortoise members, editors and expert analysts will get together to figure out what it means for households, for business and the wider economy – and what clues it holds about strategic divisions between No 10 and No 11, and for government strategy overall. Please bring your questions and observations as we spend an hour making sense of it all together. editor and invited experts Ceri ThomasEditor and Partner Anne LongfieldChair, Commission on Young Lives Dr Gemma TetlowChief Economist at the Institute for Government James SmithResearch Director, Resolution Foundation Molly Scott CatoGreen politician, economist and activist. Previously a Professor of Economics at Roehampton University

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A ThinkIn with Mark Carney on Value(s)

For most of this year, the price of natural gas was going up and up…  “Pressure is growing on the UK government to draw up emergency measures, to protect households and businesses from high energy costs moving into winter.” Bloomberg News The demand for energy dramatically increased as life returned to normal after Covid. Suppliers struggled to keep up with that demand, pushing prices up.  Then, they increased again in February after Russia invaded Ukraine. “It has happened. This is Ukraine’s capital. What seemed unthinkable in the 21st century is now underway. A democratic country has been invaded by its nuclear-armed neighbour on multiple fronts.” Global News Before the war, Russia was the world’s largest gas exporter, supplying 40% of the gas used in the EU.  In retaliation for European governments placing sanctions on Russia’s economy to punish it for its invasion… Russia cut its gas exports, pushing prices up. But it was during the summer that it really started to skyrocket.  Gas consumption is measured in therms. This time last year a normal rate was 40 pence per therm. Then at the peak of the energy crisis in August that number surged to 640 pence per therm – sixteen times the normal level.  The UK is particularly exposed to the energy crisis, because of its dependence on gas for heating homes and generating electricity.  For people across the country, the situation was dire… “It’s like with the electric, isn’t it? You won’t put it on because you’re scared and you’re watching it go down. You cut down on everything you use, like cooking. I don’t even use my cooker.”Sky News And some people face being unable to heat their homes. “A lot of people are very very worried and what do you do? You choose between eating and heating.”The Times, Red Box When Liz Truss became Prime Minister she announced an energy price guarantee, which put a limit on the amount suppliers can charge households for every unit of energy they use. “From the 1st October, a typical household will pay no more than £2500 per year for each of the next two years.”Liz Truss The government will cover the rest. Initial predictions suggested it could cost the government £140 billion. However, in recent weeks the wholesale price of gas has been falling. So does that mean we don’t need to worry so much about the cost of energy?  *** In the last week of October the wholesale price of gas reached its lowest level since June: 261 pence per therm. Roughly a third of the peak price in August.  That’s because it’s warmer than usual for this time of year… “It will be unusually warm 19, 20 perhaps even 21 or 22 celsius in the south east.”Met Office Many households have delayed switching on the heating. Also, European countries have been busy stockpiling liquified natural gas – known as LNG – in preparation for this winter. Such a huge amount has been imported from countries like the US and Qatar that storage is almost 94% full.  “There are more than 35 LNG Latin vessels drifting off the coast of Spain and around the Mediterranean.”DW News And finally, people are using less energy than average this year because they’re concerned about huge bills.  But none of that means you’ll see a drop in the price of your energy. *** Despite the wholesale price of gas falling, we won’t see this reflected in our bills just yet.  That’s because gas supplies are paid for in advance in order to secure supply. The current gas reserves we will use this winter were bought using the older, more expensive rate.  Plus, many experts say the recent drop is just a blip, they predict that energy prices will actually go back up at the start of next year, which is concerning.  The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has said that the energy price guarantee of £2500 a year for the average household will now be reviewed in April. The original plan was for the government to provide support for all households and businesses for two years.  That means that some might not be protected from future rises if that review results in support being scaled back.  “Beyond next April the Prime Minister and I have reluctantly agreed it would not be responsible to continue exposing the public finances to unlimited volatility in international gas prices.”Jeremy Hunt Households across the country could face a financial cliff edge if wholesale gas prices do start to rise again… with some predictions suggesting a typical annual energy bill could be £4,347 in the spring. And that would make an already bad situation even worse. When customers struggle to keep up with their payments they’re moved onto prepaid plans – which are actually more expensive than paying by direct debit. The comparison website Uswitch said tens of thousands of new prepayment gas and electricity metres are being installed in Britain every month. And when you don’t have enough money to top-up your metre, your power and heating goes off. A risk that many people face this winter and even more could face next year, despite wholesale gas prices falling.  This episode was written and mixed by Rebecca Moore. Further listening

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A Digital ThinkIn with Lord Mervyn King, former Bank of England governor

Former Bank of England governor talks about the economy, recessions and decision-making for an unknowable future. Our daily digital ThinkIns are exclusively for Tortoise members and their guests.Try Tortoise free for four weeks to unlock your complimentary tickets to all our digital ThinkIns.If you’re already a member and looking for your ThinkIn access code you can find it in the My Tortoise > My Membership section of the app next to ‘ThinkIn access code’.We’d love you to join us.Mervyn King served ten years as governor of the Bank of England, a decade that spanned the global financial crisis. The British economist joins us to talk about the economy, managing a recession and his recent book Radical Uncertainty – Decision Making for an Unknowable Future.Chair: James Harding, Editor and Co-founder, Tortoise How does a digital ThinkIn work?A digital ThinkIn is like a video conference, hosted by a Tortoise editor, that takes place at the advertised time of the event. Digital ThinkIns are new to Tortoise. Now that our newsroom has closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, we feel it’s more important than ever that we ‘get together’ to talk about the world and what’s going on.The link to join the conversation will be emailed to you after you have registered for your ticket to attend. When you click the link, you enter the digital ThinkIn and can join a live conversation from wherever you are in the world. Members can enter their unique members’ access code to book tickets. Find yours in My Tortoise > My Membership in the Tortoise app.If you have any questions or get stuck, please read our FAQs, or get in touch with us at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.comWhat is a Tortoise ThinkIn?A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. It is a place where everyone has a seat at the (virtual) table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise.