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Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish ministers join forces to call on new Chancellor to act on cost-of-living crisis

18 Jul 2022 3 minute read
England’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi. Picture by James Manning / PA Wire. Finance Ministers Kate Forbes, Conor Murphy and Rebecca Evans. Photo by Welsh Government.

The Finance Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have joined forces to call on new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to act on the cost-of-living crisis.

In a joint letter, Rebecca Evans along with her counterparts Kate Forbes in Scotland and Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy, said that further action is needed to support households and businesses ahead of another increase in energy prices.

They also urge the Chancellor to develop a “fair approach” to public sector pay and ask for an increase in devolved budgets to deal with emerging pressures, including in the health service.

Mr Zahawi replaced Rishi Sunak as Chancellor earlier this month shortly before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation.

Mr Sunak had previously announced that a £650 payment will be made to more than eight million low-income households who receive benefits as well as a scheme in which all UK households will get a grant to reduce energy bills by £400 from October.

The three devolved finance ministers have written to the new Chancellor to welcome him to his position and to set out areas which they have stated “require attention”.

Maximise support

Their letter says: “Governments continue to do all we can to maximise the support for households with the cost of living crisis.

“However, many of the levers which can make the biggest difference sit with the UK Government.

“Whilst we recognise the measures taken by the UK Government to date have relieved some of the pressure on households, further action is required to address significant gaps in support for vulnerable households, families, businesses and the delivery of services.

“The prospect that the autumn energy price cap increase will be more than anticipated will only add to the pressures they are facing. The UK Government must also take more concerted steps to ensure more sustainable energy prices in the longer-term.

“The cost of living crisis is not evenly distributed, and the focus should be on providing targeted support to those most adversely impacted, rather than reducing broad-based taxes.

“Neither should tax cuts result in tighter controls on spending which will impact on delivery of public services which are already facing immense pressures.”

Pay uplifts

The three ministers also call for a “fair and appropriate” approach by the UK Government on public sector pay and assurances on pay uplifts for workers.

On the topic of devolved budgets, the ministers say: “Due to inflationary pressures, our budgets for the next three years are now worth considerably less than when we formulated our spending plans last year.

“In addition to the public pay bill and the rising public energy costs, there are other significant emerging pressures for our services, including education and enabling NHS recovery and reform.

“Our budgets should be uplifted in line with these pressures.

“The NHS turns 75 next year and this presents a much-needed opportunity to boost funding for the service which so many of us rely on.

“We would urge you to consider these issues and take the steps needed to address these significant concerns.”

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

I doubt Zahawi is paying much attention a)because he is an English Tory and b) he is probably trying to think up some really good lies to answer the questions about his questionable loans…

He is like all Tory scum: A liar with a dodgy past who looks to a future in which he and his bestest friends can make a pile of cash…. and none of his friends include you, your kids or anyone that you know.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Yes and furthermore he is a chancellor in name only so far sitting in suspended animation having been appointed by Johnson so is unlikely to be in post when the new PM is in place. These letters have been sent in during an ongoing farce so no reply will be the answer.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

They wouldn’t have been much of a response even if it was a Tory government operating at full go, its always a lame duck parliament because it is in pawn to the interests of rich men….

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Or in Rishi Sunak’s case rich women…and of course the Queen…

Last edited 1 year ago by Mab Meirion
1 year ago

His initial thought, unconsciously uttered, is likely to have been along the lines of “What right have these upstarts got to go around calling themselves ‘Finance Ministers’? I advise the three of them not to hold their breath waiting for a positive reply.

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