Wales’ Finance Minister writes to Chancellor Sunak to demand action on cost of living crisis
Wales’ Finance Minister has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to demand action on the cost of living crisis.
In the letter, she called on the UK Government to “act now and stand with the Welsh Government to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”
The Welsh Government has said UK Government decisions on unemployment support, changes to universal credit and increases in taxes on income are adding to the pressures on household budgets.
They are also calling the reversal of the decision to remove £20 from universal credit, and for welfare benefits to see a bigger increase in the context of inflation levels expected to hit almost 8% by April.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “We have invested more than £330m to support people through the cost of living crisis, nearly double equivalent support in England.
“But it is the UK Government that has the key levers, particularly through the tax and benefit system, to offer people more financial protection.
“The cost of living crisis is very real for people, and is set to get worse from April. No one can afford to underestimate the gravity of the challenges we face.
“The suggestions we have made are effective, practical measures that would help people pay bills and put food on the table. Now we need the UK Government to listen, act, and stand with us to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”
The case for a windfall tax on the excessive profits made by big energy companies, with money raised to be spent on supporting vulnerable households, has been described as “irrefutable” by the Finance Minister.
The Welsh Government has also put forward a number of other suggestions to help people. Proposed measures include moving the social policy costs to general taxation, introducing a low income energy tariff to better target support to lower income households, and providing further and increased support through the Warm Home Discount and other winter fuel payment schemes.
The Finance Minister also calls on the Chancellor to take the necessary steps to secure the UK’s energy security, in response to the major geopolitical crisis arising from the Ukraine conflict. She calls on greater investment to incentivize renewable energy generation to meet net zero targets and support a more resilient domestic renewable energy system.
But Rishi Sunak is also facing competing calls for attention, with pub and restaurant bosses urging the Chancellor to axe a planned hike to VAT in tomorrow’s spring statement to help them recover after the Covid pandemic.
Trade group UKHospitality and JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin both urged Rishi Sunak to keep VAT frozen at 12.5% in tomorrow’s mini-budget. The tax is due to revert to its pre-pandemic level of 20% from April.
Tim Martin, who regularly calls for VAT cuts, attacked the “tax discrimination” between supermarkets and pubs and restaurants.
“The hospitality industry understands that governments need tax — but there should be a sensible rebalancing, so that all businesses selling similar products are treated in the same way.,” he said.
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