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Thousands march to demand help with cost-of-living crisis

Thousands joined the demonstration (Yui Mok/PA)
Thousands joined the demonstration (Yui Mok/PA)

Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to demand action from the Government to combat the cost-of-living crisis.

The crowds began a march from Portland Place to Parliament Square at 12pm for a rally, with speakers including Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, which is organising the event.

The TUC says its research suggests workers have lost almost £20,000 since 2008 because pay has not kept pace with inflation.

Cost of living crisis
Protesters demanded action on the cost of living (Yui Mok/PA)

Banners reading “Cut war not welfare” and “End fuel poverty, insulate homes now” were carried by demonstrators. Others read “Nurses not nukes”, “Don’t get angry, get active” and “Free Assange”.

People in the crowd whistled, cheered and clapped as a blue flare was set off to mark the beginning of the march.

Loud music, including the songs 9 To 5, I Need A Dollar and Money, Money, Money were played through speakers, as people sang and danced along.

Union leaders gave speeches in Parliament Square to a crowd of thousands, calling for higher wages, increased taxes for the rich, better working conditions and in support of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union strikes next week.

Cost of living crisis
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, speaks during a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers (Yui Mok/PA Images)

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC was met with applause and cheers as she gave a speech criticising the Transport Secretary and the Prime Minister.

She said: “I have seen the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.

“Well you are wrong Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.”

Ms O’Grady, who marched with Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner, added: “Let me say this to Boris Johnson, don’t you dare shift the blame for inflation onto working people.

Cost of living crisis TUC rally
Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner joined the rally (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

“Don’t you dare, not after a decade of austerity, privatisation and pay cuts.

“Don’t you dare tell working families we have to put up with more pain.

“What about bankers’ bonuses? What about the boardroom raking it in? What about corporate profits?

“It is time to raise taxes on wealth not workers.”

Cost of living crisis
A message on clothing as Unison members and members of the public take part in a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working people and a pay rise for all workers (Yui Mok/PA Images)

Saleyha Ahsan, an NHS doctor and representative from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, also spoke on stage and criticised the Government for not yet starting an inquiry into the pandemic.

She criticised the Government response overall, including the partygate revelations, saying the social gatherings in Downing Street happened at the same time that her father was in hospital.

She said: “If they truly cared, if it really mattered to them, about learning these essential lessons to save lives, the inquiry would have started already.

“Why are they stalling? What else are they hiding?”

“They threw up from too much booze, the rest of us prayed for our loved ones fighting to live, fighting to breathe,” she added.

Ben Robinson, 25, who works for a housing charity in Brixton, south London, and Frankie Brown, 24, a teacher, were at the protest.

Cost of living crisis
The event was organised by the TUC (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Brown said: “Every day I have got kids in my class who are going home to homes where they don’t have enough to eat.”

Mr Robinson said: “We’ve got residents who are coming into our offices who are choosing between feeding their own kids, not themselves, their own kids, and paying rent and heating, and that is just not a choice that anyone should have to face, you know, in the fourth biggest economy in the world.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s enough recognition in the Government, actually, how bad things are going to be and really are for people, real people who don’t have enough money.

“And the growing disparity between the very richest in society and the other 99% of people who just don’t have enough to get by.”

Protesters also used the rally to voice anger at the controversial Police and Crime Bill which they fear could limit such demonstrations in future.

Mr Robinson, 25, called the Bill “draconian”, and said he hoped people would still come out to protest if it becomes law.