Thank you to all those who have contacted me about the cost of living. With food prices increasing, heating bills going up and taxes rising I know this is a very difficult time for many families.
Working people and families have also been hit by the £20 cut to universal credit, which I opposed. Moreover, this cost-of-living crisis will be exacerbated by further deep real-terms cuts to UC and other benefits from April 2022. I believe that this is the result of choices made by Government Ministers who refuse to acknowledge that inflation will cause devastating hardship for so many.
I will continue to urge the Government to make urgent reforms to UC and the current social security system to make it fairer. These reforms should include an end to the five-week wait for a first UC payment and for UC advances to be converted into grants instead of loans. In addition, I believe the UC savings limit, the benefit cap and the two-child limit for UC and Tax Credits should be abolished.
In March 2022, I voted in favour of cancelling the Government’s increase in national insurance contributions because it will cost families an average of £500 per year. I believe this is a heavy burden on working people and businesses who could ill afford it. Regrettably, Government MPs refused to vote in favour of this motion. Nevertheless, I hope that Ministers will listen and change course.
At this time of rising inflation, I also support cutting VAT on household energy bills from 5% to 0% for this year. The poorest households in the UK spend a higher proportion of their income on gas and electricity bills, with pensioners spending the highest proportion of all, so the beneficiaries of this measure would have been the people who need support more than anyone. Unfortunately, Government MPs also voted against this proposal.
As Shadow Minister for Disabled People, I am also aware of the impact the cost of living crisis is having on disabled people, worsened by the failure of the government to match legacy benefits with the UC uplift during the pandemic. These are issues that I have, and will continue to raise in Parliament.
On a local level, I am chair and trustee of Deptford First, a charity that’s mission is to provide financial support to Deptford residents who may be struggling and cannot find support elsewhere. Currently, there is a Universal Credit Cut campaign, which aims to offer a helping hand to those who have been hardest hit by the cut to Universal Credit last year. More information on accessing support and donations can be found here.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this very important issue.