An ethical future could make life harder for the poorest – but it doesn’t have to

The British supermarket chain Morrisons recently announced that it will only sell free-range eggs.

This article first appeared in the Conversation

This is a telltale example of how business and government are starting to do more to encourage or require ethical consumption in the UK.

The government recently announced that solid coal and wet wood can no longer be used in domestic burners and fireplaces. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reported to be considering an increase in fuel duty in the budget, in line with carbon reduction objectives.

All these things have the potential to increase basic living costs, including for worse-off households who are already struggling to make ends meet. Poorer working-age households have seen their buying power squeezed in recent years. For example, my team’s research on minimum household living costs in the UK shows that these typically rose by 8%-12% from 2015 to 2019 (varying by household type). This is the same period over which benefits and tax credits were frozen in cash terms.

Growing use of food banks reflects the vulnerability of households living on the edge when there is nothing to fall back on if things go wrong. For such families, increasing the cost of the basics even by what may seem like small amounts can cause additional hardship.

To read the full article, by Professor Donald Hirsch, visit: The Conversation

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