LOCAL politicians have given a mixed reaction to the Chancellor’s announcement earlier to help people tackle the cost of living crisis.
Rishi Sunak announced earlier today a £15 billion package of cost of living support package that will include a £400 discount on energy bills for all and a £650 one-off payment to the poorest households.
The measures will be partly funded by a temporary £5 billion levy on gas and oil companies, who have enjoyed bumper profits in recent times.
Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement, Mr Lake said: “It’s disappointing that it has taken so long for the Chancellor to make this announcement. It is welcome, however, that he’s finally seen sense and agreed with opposition parties’ calls – including Plaid Cymru – to implement a windfall tax on energy companies.
“Time and again, Plaid Cymru has urged the Chancellor to ensure that people living in rural areas do not fall through the cracks.
“I am pleased, therefore, that the Treasury has confirmed that households that are not connected to the mains gas grid, and which depend on domestic heating oil and LPG, will be eligible for the £400 grant announced today.
“The Chancellor recognises the need to address the supply side of the energy crisis, but his continued resistance to addressing the demand side is unacceptable. The UK, and especially Wales, has some of the oldest and leakiest housing stock in western Europe, meaning that heat escapes through walls, windows and doors quickly after leaving radiators. Even with government help, households will continue spend thousands of pounds on wasted energy.
“I urge the Chancellor once again to use the warm summer months to invest in a home insulation programme to bring down bills in the Autumn.”
Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, Craig Williams, welcomed the news, saying: “The last few years have brought unprecedented challenges – from a pandemic that has severely damaged the global economy, to a cost of living challenge now being felt across the world. Due to a series of global forces - economies reopening after the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a fresh wave of lockdowns in China - families and businesses are being hit across the UK and Montgomeryshire through a significant rise in inflation and everyday prices.
“Whilst it is impossible for any government to solve every problem, the absolute priority right now is to help the millions of families who are struggling with the cost of living. Today’s package announced by the Chancellor will support not only the most vulnerable UK households with £1,200, but also pensioners and hard-working families across the UK and Montgomeryshire. On top of the measures previously announced, UK Government support for households with the cost of living now totals over £37 billion – equivalent to 1.6% of GDP.
“Extra revenues will be raised through a new Energy Profits Levy on oil and gas companies, with significant investment incentives built-in to the levy to ensure new investment is not deterred.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid and West Wales MS, Jane Dodds, critical of the Chancellor’s approach however, saying: “The Chancellor is hammering families with a £800 tax hike this year, more than wiping out what he announced today.
“It is the Sunak scam, promising you help but picking your pockets while you’re not looking.
“Soaring inflation and devastating tax rises have left families who never dreamed they would find themselves in trouble struggling to pay the bills. Wales’s already high poverty rates look likely to skyrocket.
“Welsh people need help right now, but instead have been left abandoned again for months on end.
“Whilst the Chancellor refused to take any action over the last few months inflation in countries like France was kept at 4.8% thanks to Government action whilst the UKs has increased to over 9% or 14% for the poorest households.
“Rishi Sunak needs to scrap his unfair national insurance tax hikes and cut VAT. That would put money now back into people’s pockets and boost the Welsh economy.”
The package revealed earlier today includes:
· A £650 cost of living payment for every household on means-tested benefits – over 8 million UK households will be directly sent a one-off cash payment, paid out by the DWP in two separate instalments in July and Autumn this year.
· A £300 pensioner cost of living payment for every pensioner household in receipt of Winter Fuel Payment, on top of the WFP which had been increased to £300.
· A £150 disability cost of living payment for those in receipt of disability benefits.
· Supporting hard-work families by doubling the October £200 rebate to £400, and turning it into a cash grant – cancelling the existing clawback mechanism.
· Additional funding to the Welsh Government through the Barnett Formula, to support Household Support Fund payments within Wales through local councils.