Martin Lewis condemns minister’s ‘patronising’ advice to buy value food brands amid cost-of-living crisis

Martin Lewis has said a minister’s advice to those struggling to afford food amid the cost-of-living crisis was “patronising and difficult”.

Environment secretary George Eustice said on Wednesday morning that shoppers should choose value brands in supermarkets to “contain and manage their household budget”.

Mr Lewis, the founder of said it was “bulls**t” to suggest people on the lowest incomes did not already know to shop cheap and do that.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on LBC about Mr Eustice’s comments, he said: “What is wrong is the concept that the people that are on the lowest incomes who are choosing between whether they freeze or starve, don’t know that and don’t do that, that’s the bulls***.

“The advice is perfectly reasonable, if you are going supermarket shopping and you are buying the most expensive brands and you need to cut back, then drop down a brand level or two.

“But the idea that that is some panacea for the working poor and the non-working poor in this country who don’t have enough income, don’t know that, that’s what comes across as patronising and difficult.”

Mr Eustice made the shopping remarks on Sky News as the latest figures showed shop prices were up 2.7 per cent on last year – the highest rate of inflation for more than a decade – with food prices rising particularly high.

The squeeze on household finances is expected to get worse, with the CPI measure of inflation expected to hit a 40-year high of 8.7 per cent in the final three months of the year, according to Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts.

Mr Lewis said there was “a material number in absolute desperation” due to rising costs and the situation could not be fixed by ordinary means.

He added: “The usual tools we have no longer work because expenditure is bigger than income no matter what you do and that leads to a very simple solution, we need to increase income.”

Asked by Mr Marr what measures the government should consider, he suggested a “social tariff for energy” with “a new price cap specifically for people who were never able to take advantage of the market”.

He added: “The way we help people is we either take less cash out of their pockets, or we put more cash in their pockets and that’s not rocket science. The question is how do we pay for it?”

Mr Marr asked: “Does Boris Johnson get it?”

Mr Lewis replied: “Ironically, Boris Johnson for the cost of living crisis is probably the hope … As an instinctive populist politician Boris Johnson may well be the one who caves to say ‘we need to do more’.”

The prime minister today admitted the UK was going through a “tough patch” due to the cost of living pressures but insisted the economy was in a better state than in the 1980s or 1990s.

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