Why does the Conservative Government continue to sit on its hands while families struggle with skyrocketing cost of living
By Zoe Franklin
In recent weeks, across Guildford and Cranleigh, as the Guildford Lib Dem team and I have knocked on doors to talk to residents, the number one topic that people want to discuss is the skyrocketing cost of living. People are deeply concerned about what the combination of rising fuel, food and energy prices, tax rises, benefit cuts and 10% inflation will mean for them and their families over the coming months, but especially from the autumn and beyond. They share with us about how their food bills have risen, many talk about how their energy bills have more than doubled, and almost everyone says that they are having to cut back on leisure and holiday plans - some even say they will need to cut back on essentials.
This goes far beyond conversations on doorsteps. I visited the Salvation Army's Guildford Foodhub and I was appalled to discover that since 2019 the number of food parcels being handed out to local families has risen from an average of 100 per month to 300. I know that Guildford's other food banks and various charities and organisations providing help are experiencing increased demand for assistance. In 2022 we should not be in a situation where families, many where all the adults are in work, are unable to meet their basic needs - it is a national disgrace. (Read more about my visit to the Foodhub in my opinion piece for Guildford Dragon.)
Yet for months the Conservative Government has sat on its hands, failing to provide meaningful action to help struggling local people. Then yesterday they announced that they would be implementing a windfall tax (yet another U-turn) to help people struggling with energy bills.
However, it is not as fantastic as the Conservatives are trying to make out.
The Conservative windfall tax is planned to raise just £5 billion - too weak and too late for many households who have been dragged into poverty as a result. In contrast, the windfall tax that the Lib Dems proposed last October would have raised £11 billion - £200 more than under Conservative proposals and would have included cash that could have helped families through last winter.
Alongside our version of the windfall tax, Liberal Democrats have been clear that there are other options available to the Government when it comes to providing help. In particular:
- An emergency cut to VAT taking it from 20% to 17.5% for one year. This would put an average of £600 back into the pockets of every family in the UK.
- Scrap the unfair Conservative National Insurance hike.
- Double the Warm Homes Discount to cut heating bills.
We have a situation now where families are struggling as a result of things so far beyond their control that they have no means to help themselves. Government has a moral and political duty to look after those struggling in our communities. This Conservative Government seems unwilling to do so; instead telling people to "get a better-paid job" or "work more hours", "learn to cook" and "buy cheaper food". They are out-of-touch at best and callous and uncaring at worst - the people of the UK deserve so much better.
Alongside my Lib Dem colleagues on Guildford Borough Council and in Westminster I will continue to stand up for people across our communities on this and other important issues. One way you can help me to do this is by completing my cost of living survey here: http://guildford.lib.dm/ZFCostOfLivingSurvey
I want to end by saying that if you find yourself struggling, or know others who are, please get in touch so that we can provide you with support to get the help you need.
27th May 2022
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages