South Bristol Voice – March 2022

Families and businesses across Bristol are facing a perfect storm of spiralling costs and reductions in support from Government. We are seeing petrol, food and energy bills skyrocket, inflation spiral out of control – while the Government seems too distracted by the chaos surrounding the Prime Minister to act.  In place of the  security, prosperity and respect that families in Bristol deserve, the Tory Government are hitting them with a tax rise at the worst possible time, hiking both National Insurance and Council Tax within just a couple of months.  By 2026/27, the average household in the city will pay £3000 more tax than when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Despite having had years to prepare for Brexit, the Tories don’t have a plan to boost skills and jobs in Bristol, with all five of their “Plan for jobs” failing.  As a result we’re facing a labour shortage and wages are stagnating, with people struggling to make ends meet.

It’s been a really tough winter for many households, and despite calls from Labour to bring in measures to support people through this difficult period, from reinstating the Universal Credit uplift to cutting VAT from household energy bills, the Government has only offered a buy now, pay back later energy bill loan. Using Bristolians as a credit card for the Government’s failings will make it harder for thousands of families to make ends meet.

The Labour Party would help families now with fully-funded measures to reduce the expected price rise of energy bills in April – saving most households around £200 or more, with extra targeted support for pensioners and the lowest earners, to provide immediate relief to household budgets.  This would be achieved by scrapping VAT off home energy bills for a whole year.  Conservative MPs voted against this Labour motion put forward earlier this year, however.

Meanwhile the UK’s cost of living squeeze continues as the average annual grocery bill is set to rise by £180 this year as grocery prices rose 3.8% over the four weeks to 23 January compared with the same period last year, the fastest increase in prices in a decade.  This is having a damaging impact on household budgets and forcing more families to choose between heating or eating. 

Food banks are now struggling to keep up with demand and local charities are stepping up to support our communities where the Government has failed.  It is an honour to support them in any way I can and I have been working to support constituents during this crisis, but it should not have to be this way. 

Boris Johnson is more concerned with wasting his energy defending his position after breaking lockdown rules to attend parties during lockdown than addressing the cost of living crisis.  Working people are now paying the price, but Labour has a plan to fix this.