There are no two ways about it – families in Bristol South are living through a cost of living crisis. Gas and electricity bills are soaring, inflation is spiralling, and people across our area are being left to struggle with the consequences. Meanwhile, policy decisions made for dogmatic reasons by the Tory Government are starting to bite. Instead of the security, prosperity and respect they are owed, many families are being hit with a Universal Credit cut and a barrage of tax rises.
The gas price crisis is a global phenomenon, but the regulatory failings of successive Tory Governments are very much a home-grown problem. A combination of indifference to the plight of residents in communities like ours, alongside rank incompetence, has meant the energy price crisis is having a devastating impact on family incomes.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m proud to be part of the Labour front bench team committed to doing in government what the Tories have refused to do. In power, we would provide immediate financial relief to family budgets by removing VAT from domestic energy bills. This would quickly and effectively reduce household energy bills to help families stay warm in their homes this winter.
This month, we also brought forward sensible plans to bring the energy crisis under control, with fully-funded measures now to reduce the expected price rise in April, saving most households around £200 or more. We would also see targeted extra support for those who need it most, in south Bristol and beyond. And how would we pay for this? A simple one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas producers who have profited from price rises.
But if we want to properly fix the broken system, we need longer term solutions. A Labour Government would reduce our reliance on imported gas by accelerating home-grown renewables and new nuclear, which would in turn support the creation of new jobs in the sector. I know from constituents in Bristol South that there is a great deal of expertise locally so this would be good for our own local economy.
A new and improved retrofit scheme is also needed to make sure homes are warm and well-insulated, which could save households an average of £400 a year on energy bills. This will support net-zero ambitions, to make sure housing is sustainable and energy efficient to protect the environment.
Finally, Labour would regulate the market better and reform our broken energy system, with a pledge to never again let energy companies play fast and loose with the rules. Working people should not have to pay the price for the energy crisis. Labour’s plan would fix this.
The cost of living crisis will continue to get worse if the Government doesn’t act and adopt Labour policies. We have a plan to save your family budgets from the squeeze we all face right now. The Conservative Government cannot afford to sit back in the hope that good luck will sort this out: it won’t. They need to roll up their sleeves and act. Families across South Bristol deserve a better deal not just from their energy suppliers, but from their government.