Fuel bills are due to rise by nearly £700 per year and the Government’s solution to help struggling households is a loan of £200 that will need to be repaid and a Council Tax rebate which will benefit high earners and leave over 2 million of the poorest missing out. They have offered no help at all to businesses struggling with rising energy costs.
There are already 4 million households living in fuel poverty. Inflation is due to reach an eye-watering rise of over 7%. Real wages are falling, a National Insurance hike and Council Tax rises are coming and the triple lock is being axed. The Bank of England has said that families are about to suffer their biggest fall in living standards since records began.
Labour and even some Tory MPs have called for a scrapping of VAT on energy bills, a measure the Prime Minister repeatedly promised, but as usual failed to deliver. The Government is also rejecting Labour’s calls for a windfall tax on North Sea gas and oil profits. Our plans would see families get up to £600 and would include a contingency fund of £6 million to support businesses affected.
People in the UK are being uniquely hit by the rise in fuel bills because the Tory Government in 2017 shut down three quarters of our own gas storage capacity (making it lower than other European countries), failed to properly insulate homes, failed to regulate the market properly and have been slow to invest in renewable and nuclear energy.
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Already people are choosing to heat or eat. Up to one million adults are going a whole day without food. Up to two million children are suffering food insecurity.
Once again, when the Prime Minister had an opportunity to tax companies who can well afford it, he instead offered a £200 loan to be paid back by those hit the hardest. Just like every Tory Prime Minister before him, his legacy will be one of deep inequality and heart-breaking levels of poverty.