PROSPECTS FOR 2022
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Can we begin to imagine that an end to this pandemic is in sight? For most of us, that remains a far off dream, but some of our journalists, broadcasters and, dare I say it, politicians seem determined to help us think differently.
But at the same time they are warning us of a different set of problems coming our way in 2022. A headline in The Sun on New Year’s Eve warned of ‘Eleven major changes to your personal finances in 2022 kicking in from TOMORROW’.
It should be said that not all of us will be affected by all these changes, but all of us will be affected to some extent. The one that most of us will already be aware of is the steep rise in our fuel bills, as the price of gas increases rapidly and will continue to do so, unless the government intervenes in some way.
And this will be one of the factors contributing to rising inflation, so that prices of most goods are likely to increase again during the year.
In the spring, those in employment can expect a rise in National Insurance payments which will affect their take-home salary, while, for pensioners, the annual increase in state pensions will be restricted. Moreover, many tax allowances will be frozen, council tax rates may rise significantly, train fares are likely to rise later in the year and at the same time banking costs are likely to rise sharply for many.
All of which means that a great many people are going to find life increasingly hard. You may be one of those people. On the other hand, many of us have sufficient income and savings to assure ourselves that these changes will not significantly affect our way of life.
Ours is an increasingly unequal society and much is said about the need to ’level up’ our society, tackling the causes of inequality as well as using targeted action to deal with its consequences. But achieving fundamental change is still a very long way off and the changes described above are likely to add to inequality and drive more and more people into poverty.
So for the present, there will be an increasing demand for food banks, for the work of Christians Against Poverty and numerous other organisations which exist to help those who find themselves, either temporarily or permanently, unable to make ends meet. In a just and compassionate society, no one should lack the money to heat their home and feed their children. No one should be scared to open the front door or answer the phone. There is an urgent need for radical change in our society and for me the starting point for that is the Bible. And where better to begin than with the words of the prophet Micah:
‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God’
Political leaders, please note.