A crisis of quality is the real cost of living crisis in modern Britain, and we cannot simply rely on law changes to get us out of the current situation we find ourselves in, writes Ryan Christopher.

Overpriced and cancelled flights. Surging inflation. Meals skipped. Welcome to 'New Normal' Britain.

As the cost of living crisis spirals out of control, assuming it was under control in the first place, we should ask the question researchers and lawmakers frequently avoid: Are the costs of living just quantitative, or also qualitative? Simply put, are there more factors to consider in the cost of living crisis than mere money?

Experience tells us there is, and that it is often quality that makes life worth living, rather than quantity. The quality of close family, a good friendship or a meaningful job. The quality of growing in wisdom, knowledge, virtue and purpose. The quality of new life and of old age. The quality of sharing your deeply-held beliefs with others.

A crisis of quality is the real cost of living crisis in modern Britain.

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Take Rosa Lalor. She's a 76-year-old grandmother from Liverpool who took regular walks during the Covid-19 lockdown in early 2021, which included passing an abortion facility. She prayed for the lives of unborn children during her walk, alone and in silence. Yet during one of her walks, she was stopped by a police officer. Since it was not a "religious setting," praying there was considered a "protest." She was accused of breaking health measures, detained in a police car and fined £200. Despite her behaviour being consistent with Covid-19 measures and fundamental rights, her quality of life has been severely undermined by religiously illiterate policing and vague laws. We would do well to ask what Rosa's true 'cost of living' has been.

Rosa was arrested due to a temporary Covid-19 regulatory measure that gave police broad powers to enforce a ban on outdoor activities for the sake of public health. But under the recent Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, similar broad powers have been given to police officers on a permanent basis. In theory, officers can restrict public expression – even prayer – if they subjectively deem it to be an expression of dissent, and at risk of causing a bystander to feel "alarmed". Rosa's experience could be the experience of so many others, should the cost of living debate overlook the dire contribution of bad laws and policing to our quality of life.

From the repeated wrongful arrests of street preachers to the denial of last rites for Sir David Amess, police officers have repeatedly shown that they are failing to strike the balance between tackling genuine criminal behaviour and upholding fundamental rights. Rosa's story highlights the need for better training within the police force on how to strike such a balance.

Laws and guidance alone cannot stop Britain's real cost of living crisis. Personally and collectively we must ask the hard questions, and answer them. What do we value most in life? How do we measure cost and meaning? More than just mechanical bodies, are we also mind and spirit, and how do we treat grandmothers who answer in the affirmative?

Honest replies to these questions will determine honest – and quite possibly successful – solutions to the challenges we face.

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