The Tory Guide to Surviving the Cost of Living Crisis

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Yves here. One might wonder why the Democrats have yet to offer a list of helpful budget tips like the Tories. Perhaps it is because they are hewing to the rules of neoliberalism: 1. Because markets. 2. Die faster. But perhaps readers can come up with American versions of cost-saving ideas.

Some I hear all too often:

Go on Medicaid

Buy in bulk when people who live in small spaces don’t have Mormon larders

Grow a garden when not everyone has time or land

Ones that are far more popular but no one in the officialdom talks about:

Deal drugs

Become a prostitute

Put your kid to work

Live in your car

By Anita Mureithi, an editorial assistant at openDemocracy who tweets @anitaxviii. Originally published at openDemocracy

Across the UK, parents are struggling to balance bills with feeding their children, workers are juggling several jobs at the expense of their mental and physical health, and more and more people are being driven to food banks, with food prices predicted to reach “apocalyptic”levels.

Luckily for all of us though, some kindly Tory MPs have offered their top-tier budgeting advice, to help people to cope with the crippling cost of living crisis.

Here are some of their best tips.

1. Learn How to Cook/Budget

According to Lee Anderson, if you’re facing food poverty and having to rely on food banks, it’s probably because you don’t know how to cook.

The Ashfield MP, who earns £84,144 a year, told the Commons that food banks are unnecessary in the UK, and that the main reason why people on lower incomes are struggling to afford food is because they lack cooking and budgeting skills.

Lee Anderson, Ashfield MP. Parliament Live TV

“I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.

“You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

Anderson went on to claim that nutritious meals only cost 30p a day.

“And what we do at the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget. We can make a meal for around 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

2. Work More Hours or Get a Better-Paid ob

But we all know that, despite what Anderson says, people aren’t struggling with the impact of soaring energy and food prices because they don’t know how to budget. It’s because they don’t have enough money to budget with.

So, with that in mind, safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean has cracked the cost of living crisis.

The solution, Maclean says, is to earn more. Easy! Why are people wasting time choosing between heating and eating, when they could just take on more hours or better yet, get a higher-paying job?

“Over the long term, we need to have a plan to grow the economy and make sure that people are able to protect themselves better, whether that is by taking on more hours or moving to a better-paid job,” she told Sky News.

Simple enough. Maclean would know, before becoming an MP, she workedin Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo with HSBC, then set up Packt Publishing Ltd with her husband. The IT publishing company reportedly recorded £1.8m operating profits in 2020.

And last year, on top of her £84k salary as an MP, Maclean reportedly claimed more than £213,000 in expenses. The average claimed by MPs is £203,000.

3. Put the Name-Brand Products Down

Our next top budgeting tip comes from the environment secretary, George Eustice. When Sky News asked what advice he would give to people who want to have a family Sunday roast with a chicken but can’t afford it, Eustice suggested that shoppers should buy supermarket own-brand products.

George Eustice, environment secretary. Sky News

“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.”

Martin Lewis, founder of, spoke for the nation when he said Eustice’s advice was “patronising” and that it was “bullshit” to suggest that people who are struggling to make ends meet do not already buy own-brand groceries.

4. Rent Out Your Granny Annexe

Lastly, we have some stellar housing advice for young people from Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who thinks we should all make use of our granny annexes, the self-contained flats we all have just off of our main homes.

Jackie Doyle-Price, Thurrock MP. Parliament Live TV

Speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate, Doyle-Price told MPs that the government should be “encouraging people to make better use of their housing asset for the whole of their family”.

“We can incentivise granny annexes, we can make sure that young people have got some hope by having greater access to the wealth in their parents’ home.

“And I tell you, if we can do that, we will actually save money in the health service because unnecessary hospital stays are much more expensive than dealing with the little inheritance tax problem, which might unlock some investment.”

And, if you don’t have a granny annexe, don’t worry, just move to a house that has one.

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  1. ambrit

    Oh good lord. The definition of gormless twits.
    I had to laugh when I saw the picture of Mz. Doyle-Price. She looks a lot like the English actress Judy Cornwell, who played Hyacinth Bucket’s sister in the show “Keeping Up Appearances.”

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Ambrit.

      Doyle-Price was one of the UK’s top financial services regulators before election to the Commons.

      “Useless” Eustice was a UKIP activist recruited by Cameron. He co-led the trade negotiations with Australia, which will soon destroy what’s left of British farming. His family owns a farm shop in the west country.

      Anderson was a Labour councillor, but defected to the Tories in time for the 2019 elections, citing the extremism of Corbyn. He is one of the MPs vetted by Johnson and Cummings to “get Brexit done” and not be able to challenge Johnson.

      None of the trio is at particular risk of losing their seats. Things aren’t bad enough yet.

      I hope Phyllis and you are OK.

      The Derby is a fortnight tomorrow. The last trials are at Goodwood and Sandown today. I shan’t be at Epsom, but will escape the Jubilee celebrations and watch the French Derby instead.

      1. ambrit

        Thank you Colonel. Phyl sends her best.
        Will The Derby be a “superspreader” event? It would be instructive to follow ‘positivity’ rates among the “Horsey Set” after the Derby. Any observations about differences between the English racing crowds and the French ones concerning masking? Or is this a truly ‘International’ population?
        No matter what, keep yourself very safe.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Ambrit.

          It’s more sensible in France. No entry without vaccination and testing, masking and limited numbers of racegoers. The stands are small and often old, so racegoers tend to be outdoors.

          There’s nothing alarming yet arising from race meetings. Nothing like Cheltenham 2020. Apart from this year’s Grand National, attendances are falling at race meetings. The sport of kings in the UK is in some trouble, not just because racegoers are watching the pennies. Greedy bookies and incompetent administrators are ruining the sport.

          1. ambrit

            “Greedy bookies and incompetent administrastors are ruining the sport.”
            We could apply this observation to almost all aspects of our world today. At the least, it applies to the West.
            When younger, I never considered the idea that I would be living in a ‘system’ where the terms “greedy” and “incompetent” were defining descriptors of the persons in charge.
            Thank you for being an exception that ‘proves’ the rule. Cynicism is it’s own reward, surely, but it has become a survival characteristic.
            Keep safe, enjoy the race!

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Ambrit.

              Google Dido Harding and you can read about the somewhat typical person getting into positions of authority in horse racing and other, more important parts of British life.

              1. ambrit

                Thanks. I will. With a nickname like ‘Dido,’ I suspect there to be “classically” educated relatives hiding somewhere amongst the branches of that family tree.
                Ye Gads! That is quite the resume. “Going from strength to strength” to describe the woman’s career would qualify as irony, no?
                And, would I be amis if I mentioned that her being described as a “Conservative life peer” is somewhat of an oxymoron? (I confess to a deficiency in my knowledge about that class in particular.)
                Be safe!

                    1. ambrit

                      Kudos! Wonderfully ambiguous!
                      I do believe that the Colonel works on the principle enunciated by Detective Sergeant Joe Friday: “Just the facts.”
                      Keep staying safe.

            2. fajensen

              When younger, I never considered the idea that I would be living in a ‘system’ where the terms “greedy” and “incompetent” were defining descriptors of the persons in charge


              Well, if it is any consolation, there are ancient texts lamenting the same state of affairs.

              I am beginning to think that life is pretty much like travelling to Rome as a tourist: Everyone sees the same sights, they will do pretty much the same things and yet all of their experiences are rare and unique to them.

              1. ambrit

                The mystery of individual consciousness has fascinated me from my earliest days. I can ‘see’ the phenomenon of individual “programming” as a function of society. The problems begin when groups of like minded people decide to ‘hijack’ the programming to engineer desired outcomes. The inescapable observation is that this “playing g–” falls into the category of “magical thinking,” for too many reasons to mention here.
                I have always viewed the admonition that, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” to be not an item of philosophy, but a piece of practical survival advice. One can be “like a Roman,” yet not actually “be a Roman.” People today are going to have to adopt some sort of “protective colouration” strategy to survive. The alternative, as I see it, is to “embrace the Madness.” I think that I’ll enjoy my own form of “madness,” thank you very much.
                Stay safe. The mantra for our times.

    2. Phil in KC

      By Jove, the resemblance to Daisy is indeed there. Now, where’s Onslow and our Rose?

      Seriously, the elites of the UK are just as clueless as their American cousins.

      1. ambrit

        Considering the pretensions attributed to Hyacinth, the correlations are too many to fully grasp.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar


    Anderson went on to claim that nutritious meals only cost 30p a day.

    I love lentils and chickpeas, although many do not. Even if I were to make big pots of lentil soup and eat it three meals a day, it would cost considerably more than 30 pence a day to make. Hell, the lentils may be cheap, but an onion and a celery would be more than 30 pence…

    Ambrit above calls them gormless twits. I’ll go farther: May I use the term guillotine-eligible?

    As Yves Smith notes up top, one can become a prostitute / sex worker. I suspect that there is more free-lance sex work going on than the U.S. Treasury is aware of. A writer whom I follow mentioned anecdotally doing sex work in his twenties when he had an irregular / no income. Then there are the various monetized sites for amateur porn where one sells subscriptions and performs.

    All in all, though, it would be much simpler to create jobs–a new WPA rebuilding parks. Anything. More real jobs would mean less social tensions. Not to put too fine a point on it, the upper-middle class has to learn its duty to buy social peace instead of nagging the waiter for a substitute ingredient.

    Instead, the overweening puritanism of the Anglo-American world means condescending to the less well-off, having bespoke wars in Eastern Europe, and foisting nincompoops upon the general population.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev. He’s not the only one.

        Labour have just selected a former Tory candidate for the next election.

    1. BobbyK

      All in all, though, it would be much simpler to create jobs–a new WPA rebuilding parks. Anything. More real jobs would mean less social tensions.

      Nah, that can’t happen, it’d make too much sense. Also you’d have to tax the oligarchs, and we can’t have that.

      1. fajensen

        Actually, they could just print the money, like they do for “defence” and bank bailouts. The cruelty is deliberate.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      I can’t comment about America, so shan’t, but, although I have lived in the UK all my life, my family is not from here. Many in my position think that many, if not most, people here are not unhappy with that state of affairs.

      It will get worse before it gets better.

      Yesterday, to celebrate their first month or so here and to offer more practical support, the local authority in my home county organised a lunch for Ukrainian refugees and their hosts and other volunteers. In addition to lodgings in the beautiful Chiltern hills (not the wrong side of the tracks), free public transport and mobile phone services, fast tracking into good schools, free tuition, training and kit (including musical instruments), and dedicated social worker support, families (over 300 now) have access to translators at local taxpayer expense (£350 per hour).

      My councillor was there and grandstanding on TV. When local elderly smashed their faces and limbs on broken pavements and had to wait hours for an ambulance, he refused to get involved. He was still elected comfortably a year ago. As I replied to Ambrit, things aren’t bad enough yet.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, yes, I should have said “sex worker,” but having worked on Wall Street, I don’t see prostitution as disreputable, although sadly it is way way too often dangerous.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Yves Smith: I wavered. “Sex worker” is the supposedly correct term these days, although it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

        Because the anecdote I wanted to tell was about a man, I thought that too many would make an assumption that prostitute = a woman. It doesn’t.

        Maybe we should just call them Courtesans, as in the olden days.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you.

          Possibly the best collective in the UK is called Elite Courtesans, all women. They do use the term SW from time to time.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>Possibly the best collective in the UK is called Elite Courtesans

            Since the down ticks of 2008 and the pandemic, sex work in the United States has seen a strong increased. There has been efforts at creating co-ops, collectives, chat rooms, etc. to be safe and supportive; rapists and serial murderers do prefer sex workers, especially street workers, as their prey. The police are often unlikely to realize or even to just ignore when these predators are busy because they often believe that NHI or No Humans Involved. However, using the “reasoning” that prostitution is the Evil and that sex trafficking is being done using sex slaves, all these people and their organizations must be illegal and destroyed (not they they are harming these helpless victims by jailing and giving them criminal records. Oh no, it’s for their own good. Rolling eyes here at the damn hypocrisy)

            Both parties are just evil, along with the police and the many non-profits. It is like with housing (or abortion) Deny people what they need to live and criminalize what they are doing to survive. It is just like with drug dealing. The average street dealer is making fast food wages, just like street walkers.

            I get why many people are against sex work, or drugs, or abortion and so on. I am somewhat old fashioned myself. But denying people everything they need to survive from actual jobs that can pay for housing, food, and clothing, then criminalize whatever they are doing to survive despite that lack is not hypocrisy, it is evil. Just how are they and their families supposed to survive? Or is it now the rule of because “public safety,” just go die?

            It is very profitable for many for this to happen. The nonprofits, the police, and the prison industry all get increased funding of course wailing about the poor sex slaves, the dealers, and the homeless addicts. It is one gigantic, society wide carceral abattoir rendering down the disposables for profit. It is a gruesome, perhaps overwrought description, but still true, still accurate. Whenever I see some so-called liberal or conservative using the same reasonings and lies to do the same evils, I want to scream. They say that they care, that they are moral, but it all goes to destroying society. I dream of tumbrels, lots of tumbrels.

        2. ambrit

          There is an element of classism in the terms used to describe prostitutes of whatever gender, and, or, blend.
          As I was instructed, ‘Courtesan’ denotes an educated woman who considers her sexual favours as just another tool to use.
          Uneducated prostitutes are described using the perjorative terms, such as: whore, drab, trull, bawd, hustler, etc. etc. Also usually applied to female toilers in the vinyards of vice.
          Male prostitutes are generally described with terms that take into account their “target demographic.”
          Males who service females can be heard referred to as: gigolos, lotharios, casanovas, escorts, etc. etc.
          Males who service males are often referred to as: hustlers, nasty chickens, rent boys, and, for the classically inclined, catamites.
          As one wag put it; “Some call prostitution the first profession. I disagree. I say that Priests are the first. Prostitutes evolved to serve the Priests.”
          Be safe! (In all ways.)

            1. ambrit

              I do remember fondly reading that Estimable Tome. The saga of the first Poet Laureate of Maryland was enjoyable in the extreme. For sheer fun, the “Privie Journall of Sir Henry Burlingame,” and the Captain John Smith’s equally fictitious “A Secret History of a Voyage Up the Chessapeake,” have no peer.

    4. jake

      30p would be about 14 cents per meal, based on 3 meals a day. Per current London grocery prices as provided by numbeo, here are some choices for any given meal: 2 ounces of milk (if you could afford a gallon). Or half an egg (assuming you’ve bought a dozen). Or 1/3 of a pound of onions.

      If you ate lettuce for each meal (and nothing else; and look at the energy savings!), you’d get through about 3/5th of a head in a day.

      Happy dining!

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        In Someset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, the master of the house of the relatives who had taken up his care after he became an orphan (if I remember who did what correctly, I read it many years ago and it’s looong) would eat one egg a week….and IIRC divide it in half and give it to the protagonist to show he was generous. This if I also recall correctly, despite the fact that these relatives were getting a stipend from the estate of his parents. The source of the Maughm character’s resentment was not that they were poor (they weren’t) but pathologically cheap.

  3. The Rev Kev

    Hmmm, time to get creative. I’ll try a few suggestions here-

    -Sell your children to Big Pharma for medical experiments. They will hide this by describing it as “scholarships”.

    -Sell all organs not strictly necessary for life. Do you really need a second kidney, lung, eye and nut/ovary?

    -When you eat baked beans, eat them one bean at a time. Make sure to put down your knife and fork after each bean to make them last.

    -Rip up the floor boards of your house if you live in one, flood the ground and start to grow rice. Your neighbours can’t steal what they don’t know about.

    -Sell all your clothes except for one outfit. Then you and your wife can take turns going out still.

      1. juno mas

        Yes, college students know about this one. The blood bank sends a mobile unit (the size of a municipal bus) to my campus and the payout is in cash!

    1. JBird4049

      I can add drinking Mountain Dew and eating Tums for the caffeine buzz and full stomach feel to kill the hunger. It does work.

      Is this all reality or is it Swiftian satire? The more all this goes on, the harder it is to tell the difference. The Onion and The Babylon Bee must find it harder to write those satirical, almost plausible stories.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      I know the farm well. It’s across the border in Oxfordshire.

      The family are prominent Catholics and Brexiteers, but live on their Provencal wine estate, Leoube, near St Tropez, and recently opened a factory in Germany. They have donated to their soon to be MP, Eric Moshe Zemmour.

      As with Stanley Johnson, a remainer turned Brexiteer and who became a French citizen yesterday, many Brexiteers live abroad, e.g. former ministers Nigel Lawson, David Owen, Peter Lilley and Owen Paterson.

  4. Vandemonian

    Sorry to repeat myself, but I mentioned in Links comments a couple of days ago that a smart young lass called @rosamundi had posted this gem on Twitter:

    The Tories’ next suggestion for household economy will be to open an etsy and render your mum down for artisanal soap.

  5. petal

    Didn’t they tell us to “just pick up and move” not too long ago? And that we should buy a new electric car to save money?

    1. JTMcPhee

      There is a society, it’s being built around the ruins, a little bit at a time.

  6. Cocomaan

    “Incentivizing Granny Annexes” is going to be the name of my new hip hop concept album where I play a character going to parliament for the first time, only to realize politicians are all people just like me, only worse.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      From 2007 – 16, when I worked with them in London, Brussels and DC, I made the same observation.

  7. Anonymous 2

    The UK is now the most unbelievable mess. The economy is a disaster area, damaged by Brexit, Covid and the economic backwash from Ukraine. Inflation is shooting up, with the Bank of England looking on, hoping that they won’t have to slam the brakes on but that Inflation will come down without them acting (good luck with that).

    Politics is an appalling mess, with the Government lying constantly about almost everything. A sudden termination of the police investigations into lawbreaking inside 10 Downing Street has lead many to suspect the police have been nobbled. The opposition is more notable for its virtual absence than anything else.

    The political process, already tainted with a deeply mendacious press, and those who might tell the truth often clearly intimidated into silence, is being undermined by voter suppression measures inter al. Scarcely a week goes by without a politician being accused of rape or some other sexual crime.

    Decadent, degenerate, dysfunctional, can the UK survive? I would not be surprised if it disintegrates during the coming decade.

  8. LawnDart

    Add: join the military. Or militia. Or people’s Army.

    No guarrentee you won’t be hungry, but with a gun you have a better chance at feeding yourself from the provisions of the less well-armed.


    Thing about cooking from scratch is it’s cheaper, but it also takes time. So if you’re working longer hours to get by and you’re not getting home until after 7 and the kids are starving, you don’t have the time to make a dish from scratch. You’re going to pick up some takeaway on your way home or get a delivery.

    1. Jokerstein

      And it takes energy to cook. With prices going up, up up, that’s another nail in the coffin of the recommendation’s credibility.

      1. JohnA

        Plus, the poorer the area in general, the fewer the large supermarkets and other fresh food outlets. Many of the stores in poor areas are so-called convenience stores, where the prices are higher and the choice and quality of fresh ingredients not as good.

  10. orlbucfan

    Those 3 human examples sure look well fed. As an American, I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that Great Britain is in such bad shape.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you. You’re not the only person from outside these islands and even London to struggle with that.

  11. mark b

    I’m surprised these geniuses didn’t mention some obvious areas for economy:

    * don’t run the AC in your summer home when you’re not there;
    * wine by the case is a bit less costly than by the single bottle; organize your wine cellar to accomodate;
    * consider replacing full-time household staff with once-a-week part-time help;
    * negotiate a better price with your tailor (threatening to travel to the far east for next seasons’ suits may be an effective strategy);
    * hobbies might be an area for economizing — for example your pursuit of Picassos or Jaguars might be put aside in favor of 19th century fowling pieces or select first editions.

    I could go on, but this is really too easy.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you. This is worthy of a post or even a Twitter account or blog.

      Further to c, the help can also provide personal services as it’s not unknown.

      My former colleagues in private banking use concierge services to arrange, ahem, personal services for their high net worth clients. The providers at that level, eg the collective I mentioned above, often have some tertiary education and professional skills, so many birds can be killed with one stone.

  12. Sound of the Suburbs

    Why is inflation such a problem anyway?

    How have the neoliberals left so many on the edge?
    The neoliberal squeeze.
    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    They keep wages down, and let the cost of living soar through high housing costs.

    “Are you sure housing costs are part of the cost of living?” neoliberal policymakers
    They do tend to ignore them.

    Back to the real world.
    Rising housing costs will tend to push up wages and squeeze consumers.

    The French were already on the edge due to the neoliberal squeeze.
    Macron then raised fuel taxes.
    This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
    They put on their yellow vests and took to the streets.

    Neoliberal policies make nations very vulnerable to a rising cost of living.
    Theresa May spotted our JAMs (Just about Managing).
    It’s not going to take much to push them over the edge.
    There is nothing spare for a rising cost of living.

  13. sharonsj

    As a charter member of the underground economy, plus I live on a mostly fixed income, here’s my #1 advice for saving money: Don’t leave the house. Every time you set foot out the door, it will cost you. Conversely, don’t order anything on line.

    # 2: Bundle all your errands and shopping into one day a week. Saves on gas and you will quickly poop out, cutting short any shopping sprees.

    Oh, and the underground economy isn’t doing that great. After paying for the basics, people don’t have much cash left for “stuff” even if they could use said stuff.

    1. ambrit

      One sign of loss of “discretionary income” that I try and keep an eye on is the level of “stuff” people leave at the check-out line. As in, they decide to buy something and at the point of sale discover that they cannot afford it. Most cashiers have a small pile of “returns” next to the cash register. Also look for ‘abandoned’ items on the impulse sale shelves that line the approach to the cash register.
      I have found that, since I began walking to the local grocery stores, I have, of necessity, cut down on the amount of ‘stuff’ I purchase. It all has to be carried home. A backpack and a lightweight wheeled carrier, aka the granny chariot, will only carry so much.
      I’m also wondering how ‘modern times’ are affecting the Sam’s Clubs of the world. Are sales up or down?

  14. Dick Swenson

    Somewhere in the preceding, I saw a recommendation to sell Blood. In places in the US, selling plasma is quite profitable. You can get $40 to $60 per donation and you can donate twice a week. I used to donate blood, but can’t after having lived in the UK for two years in the early 90’s. Can residents of the UK that lived there during Mad Cow time donate blood?

  15. fajensen

    -Rip up the floor boards of your house if you live in one, flood the ground and start to grow rice. Your neighbours can’t steal what they don’t know about.

    Cannabis is a better cash crop. I knew some people who put mulch all over their studio flat and grew grass on one side and cannabis on the other. They are “respectable people in high positions” today, and probably writing policy advice about cracking down ever harder on exactly all of the shit that they used to do!

    1. ambrit

      I can attest to a “respectable” regional concern that began as a way to launder wholesale drugs sales money. The present owners of the company are about as piratical a bunch as you will encounter anywhere.

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