The gap in our thinking on the cost of living.

The story is in the picture

As so often, the real story is in the image. Here the image of the winner focussing on the gap between her and the loser, perhaps the seat for Boris Johnson. For many, the disregard Liz Truss paid Rishi Sunak as she went to the podium to deliver

was the story.

The audience in the room squirmed in embarrassment as she called for them to applaud Boris Johnson, she told us he was loved “from Kiev to Carlisle” . This of a man hounded out of office only 8 weeks before for serial lies to parliament and the country.

As so often, the story was not what was going on in the room, but what was going on outside. Liz Truss’ victory is less newsworthy than the turning off of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline

FT 06/09/22

We learned yesterday that , unless Centrica can raise billions in loans from the banks , it will go bust – failing to meet collateral calls ( a salutary reminder for over-hedged DB schemes and their sponsors).

That is the reality between what we saw at Liz’ “coronation” and what is happening in British business.

A gap between how we see ourselves and how others see each other.

Other than a brief point in the mid-eighties , the pound has never been weaker (as my colleagues in India are finding out).The Euro is now less valuable than the dollar and even though Britain only relies on Russia for 4% of its energy, we are being told to pay our price to stop Putin’s aggression. It is after all Europe, and Britain is inextricably linked in this to Europe, that is under threat. We are playing catch up with the reality of suffering in the East

There is another gap, a gap between the reality of the situation for ordinary people and the warm glow of a ruling party who scarcely mustered 100,000 people to vote in a new Prime Minister.

There’s a gap too in pension policy as I found last night when speaking to members of the payroll fraternity. One payroll manager of a hospitality group told me that opt-outs and pauses were now running at 30% of eligible jobholders.

Was she inciting desertion? No she wasn’t.

Like me, she is waiting for help from the Government on what she can do to stem the tide. Like me, she feels that referring thousands of staff to Money Helper is not what her job is about, payroll has always been the front line for staff to express their feelings, what support is it getting? There is a gap.

We have gaps too in leadership. From today we will have a new Prime Minister, we will have a new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and we may have – within the week, a new pensions minister, though there’s plenty of speculation about that.

But since mid-July we have been a ship at anchor , while the tides rip past us.

Finally, there is an enormous gap between those who have a voice (like me) and those who don’t (like the people at my church, on my boat , in my pub, in the shops and stuck at home.)

It’s no use me pretending that I know what it is like not to know if I can pay October’s electricity bill (even if I knew what it was). It’s hard to imagine how hard it has been for parents – especially single parents – to kit children out for the new term. When I look at the prices in the shops I realise that the special offers are more expensive than the full price items this time last year. There is a gap in understanding of what it means to be poor today. It is up to Torsten Bell, Martin Lewis and like minded people to bridge that gap. I look forward to listening to the recording of this.

A gap for all to see.

And that gap was obvious yesterday. Watching the Spads filing out of the QE II conference centre on their way back to “the Westminster village”, I did not see sober faces but instead the clowning around with phones and the like that characterises the vacuous behavior of today’s political circus.

These are the images that people around the country whether in Rotherhithe or Rotherham see and they see an enormous gap between themselves and those who govern. We must be very careful about the gap, in America it led to phrases like “drain the swamp” and the bitter divisions that are threatening democracy.

Belatedly , some in politics are waking up to the fact that we are in a “Dunkirk moment” but the reactions of Government are proving slow, how many will be left on the beaches?


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in pensions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply