On Wednesday 23rd March 2022, the Chancellor will announce his Spring Budget. This will be a golden opportunity for the Government to get its act together and properly tackle this cost of living crisis. Labour is calling on the Government to scrap the National Insurance rise and to introduce a windfall tax on North Sea Oil in order to bring down household energy bills – two simple policies that could save households hundreds of pounds.
The Chancellor needs to do the right thing and help working people. See below my letter to him:
I am writing to you as I am extremely concerned about the cost of living crisis and in particular, the cost of energy.
Over the last three months, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who are struggling with their household bills. Last month, Ofgem announced that its tariff cap would increase by 54%. To put frankly, this is a disaster. In 2019 there were an estimated 3.16 million households living in fuel poverty. Come April 2022, this figure will nearly double to 6.19 million, according to The End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
One constituent has told me: “So now I have to find nearly £1,100 extra on top of the £780 that I was normally pay for my electricity, and this does not include heating or hot water”. Another constituent said that their gas and electric bill will be increasing by £1,765 and that this is a “scary amount of money”. Being able to keep one’s home warm is not a privilege, it is a right. Every person in the UK has the right to live in a warm and comfortable home but I fear that many people will now have to make difficult decisions.
Many of my constituents benefit from schemes such as the Warm Homes Discount, the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment. But this is not enough and they will need to cut down on other basics such as food or clothing. My constituents are angry, confused and extremely scared about how they will pay their bills. As well as energy, we know that other essential costs such as weekly food shops, clothes and shoes and rent are soaring. Just last week, rail fares in England jumped by 3.8%, the biggest increase in nine years. Inflation is set to rise to 7% in April 2022 and on top of all of this, we are now asking working people and employers to pay more National Insurance. Given that real wages have stagnated since 2007, I believe the National Insurance increase is a dangerous idea and therefore, should be scrapped.
I appreciate that you recently announced a £150 Council Tax Rebate and a £200 Energy Loan. However if energy bills are increasing by hundreds every month, how will your scheme cover the increase? My constituents tell me the £150 council tax rebate is a drop in the ocean, they said “Even before the surge in energy prices many people like me have been struggling to afford the essentials.” What happens if price of energy continues to rise for the next 3 years, will consumers be paying back the £200 loan, alongside even greater energy bills?
Ahead of the Spring 2022 Budget, I urge you to tackle this emergency cost of living crisis – to scrap the National Insurance rise and to introduce a windfall tax on North Sea Oil in order to bring down household energy bills.
I would be most grateful if you could provide a comment to all the issues that I have raised in this letter as well as any reassurance for my constituents.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Catherine West MP
Labour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green
If you’re being affected by the cost of living crisis, Haringey Council’s Here to Help website has lots of information about the advice and support on offer that you might find helpful.