March 2022: News from the Metro Mayor
Cost of living crisis needs urgent action
THE weekly shop, petrol and energy bills are all going through the roof. It’s clear there is a cost of living crisis.
It’s affecting everyone and it’s the talk of the town – from a woman I met at a cafe in Kingswood who told me her electric bill had doubled to the terrible stories I heard at a rural foodbank of working families, including an NHS nurse, who can’t afford the basic necessities.
April’s rise in national insurance will hit hard. People across the West of England are being bashed by both higher prices and taxes in a way not seen before. Unfortunately that still isn’t the whole story.
The cap on energy bills is being raised by almost £700 – a rise of 54%. So the average energy bill will now almost be £2,000 and they are set to rise yet again later in the year too.
For many, including the Bristol and Keynsham families I met recently, the grim choice is between heating or eating – with the number of people in this awful predicament set to rise throughout 2022.
So, what is the government’s response to this cost of living crisis? Well, the Chancellor decided to loan billions of pounds to energy companies. His ‘buy now, pay later’ wheeze on energy bills will load up debt for the future, not sort the problem.
As Metro Mayor I have levers of power for the long term and have begun a big programme of retrofitting to make homes warmer and bills cheaper through my £50 million green recovery fund. We’ve got so many beautiful
Victorian and Georgian houses and cottages but they weren’t built with energy efficiency in mind.
I’ve also launched £1m in grants to help local places, like a great (dog friendly) coffee shop Angel my cocker spaniel and I visited in Bath, that are using a West of England Combined Authority grant to go greener and so cut their bills.
What is urgently needed now, however, is to get cash to hard-pressed households. Let’s fund that by a one-off tax on oil and gas producer’s booming profits.
The government need to face up to some alarming inflation and tax rise truths and provide real solutions to this cost of living crisis; not piling up more things to pay tomorrow for hard working people, families and pensioners.