LIVE: Cost of living crisis protest in Manchester city center – latest updates

A protest against the cost of living crisis will see demonstrators march through the streets of Manchester city center this afternoon (Saturday). A rally held by The People’s Assembly is set to begin in Piccadilly Gardens at 1pm.

Thousands of people are expected to join nationwide protests. Dozens of unions from across the north west are joining forces this afternoon to ‘demand meaningful action from the government’ over the rising cost of living – after many people complained Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement last week did not go far enough to help those in need.

Protesters are calling for the government to act to help ease the cost of living crisis. It comes after the energy price cap was lifted, seeing average bills rise by 54 per cent for households across the UK. Soaring energy bills are set to rise by £693 per year for those on default tariffs, and many claim to be struggling with choosing between feeding themselves and paying bills.

Today’s demonstration will also protest the loss of 800 P&O Ferries staff.

It is not possible to ‘completely nullify’ the pressures on energy prices, a Cabinet minister meanwhile has said. But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the government is ‘looking… across the board at what we’re doing with the public’s money’, and will ‘put in the support that we can, as and when we can’ to ease the sting of rising prices.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Lewis said the government cannot ‘completely nullify’ the impacts of global pressure on energy prices, but ministers will put in supportive measures where possible.

“I know, even this week, where I live we’re on oil-fired heating, I’ve seen that change directly in the price of oil – and actually the ability to get it,” he said. “At home, my family went a few days where we had no oil, just waiting for the suppliers and seeing the very big increase in price on that.

“We can’t completely nullify the impacts of the global markets and global pressure, for example, on energy, which is obviously the main focus at the moment for most people. But we will put in the support that we can, as and when we can, as I say, looking… across the board at what we’re doing with the public’s money.”

We’ll bring you the latest from the Manchester protest in the live blog below…

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