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Businesses must help cut cost of living, UK government adviser says

Sunday, June 19, 2022
Businesses must help cut cost of living, UK government adviser says © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at wine bottles displayed on a shelf in a supermarket in London, Britain, May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

LONDON (Reuters) - Businesses should do more to reduce prices in the coming months to help Britons struggling with rising inflation, the government's cost of living tsar said, as a minister warned of the risk of "unrealistic expectations" over pay.

Countries worldwide are battling cost-of-living levels not seen in decades, ratcheted up by the reopening of the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The Bank of England predicts inflation will top 11% in October.

"If you think about all the money that's spent on marketing and doing deals to promote some of the big leisure activities that the British people enjoy, let's take some of that money," David Buttress, former chief executive of Just Eat, told the BBC.

"Let's refocus it on what really matters to people which is making their prices more competitive so their money goes further."

Buttress was appointed by the government this week to work with the private sector to develop, identify and promote schemes such as discounted prices or product offers to help ease the increasing pressures on household budgets.

"I want my old friends and colleagues and business and industry to come to the party the next six months and help because reality is this is a global challenge we all face and it's on all of us I think to try and muck in and do something about it," he said.

Thousands of people are expected to join a demonstration in central London on Saturday organised by trade unions to call on the government to do more to tackle the cost of living.

Junior finance minister Simon Clarke warned on Friday that while pay was part of the answer to helping with the cost of living, the government had to be careful about "preventing inflation from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy."

"What we can't do is have unrealistic expectations around pay, which do in turn prolong and intensify this inflation problem because we all want it to end. And the way it will end soonest is if we are sensible about pay," he told the BBC.

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