Ruth Cadbury and Hounslow Council blast Government’s ‘failure to act’ on cost of living crisis

Image above: Supermarket shopping; photograph by Valentina

Chiswick MP Ruth Cadbury and LB Hounslow have both attacked the Government’s ‘failure to act’ on the cost of living crisis.

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, blasted Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘failure to act’ on cost of living crisis hitting families when she gave her response to the Spring Statement in parliament.

Hounslow Council joined in the chorus of disapproval, claiming households across the borough are facing a bleak choice between heating and eating a few days before the April energy price cap rise. 

April’s increase, which will see energy costs surge by 54%, will bring the energy price cap to just under £2,000 – increasing the average household bill by around £700 per year.

Ruth said the Chancellor should be doing more to protect families at this difficult time and called for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to tackle the high cost of energy bills.

Poorest most affected by energy price hike

The poorest are the worst affected by the energy price hike not only because of their ability to pay, but because of the way in which they pay for gas and electricity. It is cheaper to pay for it by direct debit than it is by pre-payment meters.

The Council’s analysis reveals 11.7% of households in Hounslow have pre-payment electricity meters.

While thousands of households across Hounslow will feel the impact keenly, those reliant on pre-payment meters are expected to be hardest hit, facing a steeper average increase than those paying their energy bills via direct debit.

Fuel poverty in Hounslow is expected to soar in the next month, with 15.4% already in fuel poverty (using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency definition. Under this definition, ‘households will be deemed fuel poor if their disposable income (after housing and energy costs) is below the poverty line and they live in a property with an energy efficiency rating of Band D or lower.’)

High cost of rent

Though energy prices are seen as the worst driver of the cost of living crisis, rent is another key item which is has increased hugely. Property website Zoopla estimates that people renting their homes are paying £62 a month more in the UK than before the pandemic.

Ruth Cadbury questioned the Chancellor in the House of Commons about the high costs of rents for many private sector tenants in West London, and the Government’s ‘failure’ to increase the amount of financial support provided for rent payments.

Speaking in full after the Chancellor’s Spring Statement she said:

‘‘I know from listening to families locally that the skyrocketing cost of energy bills and the rising cost of the food shop and weekly bills are all having a huge impact. The Government’s own figures show that we’re going to see the biggest hit to incomes on record, with charities warning that over 500,000 people will be pushed into poverty.

“All the Government have to offer is a tax hike – with national insurance rising this April, which will hit both workers and businesses locally with another tax hike. I’m extremely concerned that this budget will only deepen the existing inequalities in society and make it harder for families who are already struggling.

“We needed to see targeted support to the most vulnerable people – but we didn’t see that from the Chancellor.”

Energy price cap to rise again in October

Ofgem is expected to increase the price cap again in October.

Since the start of the year the Labour Party has been calling for a comprehensive £6.6billion package of relief measures to help support working families, which would include an immediate cut to VAT on energy bills and a windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas companies as well as an extension on the warm homes discount. This, they estimate, would save households between £200 to £600 per year.

Labour say the Government has offered households a “paltry” £200 loan to offset costs which will ultimately be repayable over the course of five years. They say the Chancellor’s mini-budget last week has done nothing to offset the cost-of-living crisis faced by millions of Londoners.

Hounslow’s Labour Council says it is maintaining one of the most generous Council Tax Reduction schemes in London, it is issuing Local Crisis Payments and providing grants to help families pay for school uniforms and providing free school meals to help Hounslow families tackle the cost of living crisis.

Hounslow residents “deeply concerned” about cost of living crisis

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Lead Member for Finance on Hounslow Council said:

“I hear from Hounslow residents all the time that they are deeply concerned about the cost of living crisis and they don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet.

“Rishi Sunak had a chance to make things right and he blew it. The Chancellor is as clueless when it comes to helping struggling Londoners as he is filling up a car. Only Labour has a comprehensive plan to help Londoners.

“With 11.7 per cent of households in Hounslow on pre-payment electricity meters and 15.4% already in fuel poverty I’m very worried. Meanwhile, parents are skipping meals to put food on their kids plates and people are forced to choose between heating and eating.

“In Hounslow we’re doing everything we can, from maintaining one of the most generous Council Tax Reduction schemes in London to issuing Local Crisis Payments, providing grants to help families pay for school uniforms and providing free school meals to help Hounslow families tackle the cost of living crisis. However, we also desperately need a comprehensive plan from government. Failing that, we need a new government.”

Nation is in crisis, says Mayor of London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“For months now, Londoners have been telling me agonising stories about the sacrifices they’ve been forced to make including deciding whether to cook a meal or whether to heat their home.

“The story is the same up and down the country and the Government’s response? A dodgy loan that no one asked for.

“Labour has a comprehensive strategy to bring costs down and ensure our ongoing energy security through investment in renewables.

“The nation is in crisis and this government has run out of ideas but on May 5 you have the chance to send Boris Johnson the message that enough is enough.”

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