The new head of the Co-op has declared her young children will only get one present each at Christmas this year because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, who earns a base salary of £750,000 a year and more than £1million when bonuses are factored in, said she cannot ‘in good conscience’ give her six-year-old twins more presents while millions of homes face soaring energy bills and inflation.
The 51-year-old instead of giving them an ’embarrassing’ amount of toys, she and her husband will be spending the rest of their Christmas budget on presents for struggling families.
Ms Khoury-Haq, who became the first female head of the Co-op earlier this year, told the Times she had already broken the news to her children, and that to get them more than one per stocking would be ‘excess’.
She told the paper that Christmas normally leads to ‘too many toys that you then just play with one or two times and then give away or break’, adding: ‘It just feels like excess, given what’s happening in the world. In good conscience, I can’t do that in my own home.’
Shirine Khoury-Haq (pictured), who earns more than £1m a year, said her children would get only one present each at Christmas due to the cost-of-living crisis
The head of the Co-op said her family would spend the rest of their Christmas budget on presents for families struggling during the festive period
Who is Shirine Khoury-Haq?
By Archie Mitchell for The Daily Mail
Earlier this year Shirine Khoury-Haq was appointed as the first female chief executive of the Co-op in its 159-year history.
The mutual, which runs supermarkets, funeral homes and insurance and legal services, confirmed in August Ms Khoury-Haq had taken the top job permanently.
She took over from Steve Murrells in March on an interim basis when he surprisingly left after ten years. Ms Khoury-Haq joined Co-op in 2019 as its finance boss and head of its life services arm.
She is also a non-executive director of housebuilder Persimmon and has held positions at the Post Office and McDonald’s. She was paid £836,000 in 2021, including her £650,000 salary.
This has increased since taking the top job to a base salary of £750,000, in line with Murrells, whose total pay last year including bonuses was £1.5million.
The girls will instead get ‘a small present from mummy and daddy’, with the family then going shopping ‘to provide presents for children whose parents can’t contribute to the elves’.
Ms Khoury-Haq said that the cost-of-living crisis is ‘undeniable now’, with families making tough decisions about whether to eat or turn the heating on.
‘Parents are making choices about whether they eat or their children eat,’ she said.
This played a role in the mutual’s decision to ditch its annual Christmas commercial advertising its shops, instead deciding to focus on promoting Your Local Pantry – a form of subsidised supermarket.
The pantries allow those struggling to deal with the unprecedented squeeze on household finances to pay as little as £3.50 a week to take at least ten items.
This can be anything from pasta to fresh peppers to pork chops – saving on average £15 per shop – with most food coming from food banks, donations and supermarket surplus.
People who want to use them asked questions online about their financial situation before speaking to members of the pantry in person to determine if they are suitable.
These pantries, of which there are 87 in the UK, are usually in a town, village or church hall, with that number set to rise to 225 in the next three years.
Ms Khoury-Haq says these venues, which allow people to choose the items instead of being given a pre-packed box, allow people to maintain their dignity.
She added that people who are forced to use these would rather have a ‘hand up, not a handout’, she said.
The Co-op has scrapped its Christmas advert this year in favour of promoting Your Local Pantry
Jeremy Clarkson (pictured) has said people in the UK ‘do not pay enough for their food’
While many in Britain are struggling with increasing food prices, Jeremy Clarkson has said grocery bills will need to go up even more as people ‘do not pay enough for their food’.
The 62-year-old broadcaster bought an Oxfordshire farm in 2008 which was run by a local villager but after he retired in 2019, Mr Clarkson decided to see if he could run it himself.
His attempts were documented in the Prime Video TV series Clarkson’s Farm which won plaudits for its cinematography, coupled with the lovable group of staff unafraid to tell the TV presenter when he is being useless, and also charted the difficulties faced by farm workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The success of the series has seen visitors flock to the Diddly Squat farm shop to buy products such as Cow Juice, rapeseed oil, chutneys and jams.
Appearing on The News Agents podcast, Mr Clarkson told presenters Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel that he believes food prices should be double what they are.
He said: ‘People simply don’t pay enough for their food. The one thing a government will never say is “oh you’ve got to pay more for your food, you don’t pay enough”.’
Ms Maitlis, who joined the BBC in 2001 and presented Newsnight from 2006 until earlier this year, said: ‘So Jeremy Clarkson says prices should go up?’
Mr Clarkson replied: ‘Yeah, they should. They should be double what they are, you know to get out and do that sort of work.’
Last month the former Top Gear presenter said the rising cost of gas ‘doesn’t bother him’ and insisted others could learn to not feel the cold like him.