Sunak cost of living emergency package ‘won’t scratch the surface’ says Mark Drakeford
Rishi Sunak’s £15 billion package to tackle the impact of soaring inflation will “barely scratch the surface” of what is needed to deal with the cost of living crisis in the UK, Mark Drakeford has said.
Millions of households will receive a £400 discount off their energy bills and a £5 billion tax will be levied on oil and gas giants, the Chancellor announced in the House of Commons.
But the First Minister urged him to “do more” saying that it had taken far too long to eke out these concessions.
“After defending the huge profits of oil and gas companies for so long, the UK Government has finally acted on calls for a Windfall Tax,” Mark Drakeford said.
“This has taken months – months where people across the country have been worried about the rising cost of living and making ends meet.
“Whilst this U-turn and increased support for those on lower incomes is welcome, the measures announced today barely scratch the surface.
“We will continue to do all we can to protect people in Wales from the cost of living crisis, and to push the UK government to do more.”
The £6 billion announcement of £400 in universal support from October replaces the initial plan for a £200 loan, with Rishi Sunak scrapping the requirement to repay the money.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Chancellor acknowledged that high inflation is causing “acute distress” for people in the country, telling MPs: “I know they are worried, I know people are struggling.”
He said the Government “will not sit idly by while there is a risk that some in our country might be set so far back they might never recover”.
The plans will be funded by around £10 billion of extra borrowing, but Mr Sunak insisted he had a “responsible fiscal policy”.
Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake MP meanwhile welcomed the decision to ‘finally see sense’ on windfall tax.
Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak‘s statement, he however said that the Chancellor’s continued resistance to addressing home insulation was ‘unacceptable’.
“It’s disappointing that it has taken so long for the Chancellor to make this announcement,” he said. “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.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds meanwhile described it as a “Sunak scam”.
“The Chancellor is hammering families with a £800 tax hike this year, more than wiping out what he announced today,” she said.
“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.”
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The most anyone can get is £1050 if they are on means tested benefits. Those are the very people Sunak decided did not need the £1040 Universal Credit uplift he took away.
The final sum is still nowhere near the levels IDS envisaged for UC before George Osborne slashed his budget during austerity. (Or the Clegg genocide as some called 130,000 preventable deaths)
People should compare the time it has taken Sunak to announce this “help”, with the speed, vigour and joy Johnson told people at the opening of crossrail 1, in London, that crossrail 2 would soon be on its way, at a bargain price of only £30 billion. Who said we don’t have money to help the poor?