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Here to help as people face steep rise in bills

By Alan Beresford

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WHILE Omicron is rightly at the forefront of people’s minds, let us hope that it is not going to be the defining economic feature of this year, writes Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam.

But whatever the prognosis, one thing is for sure – the pandemic along with other symptoms and supply/labour shortage issues will slice into our pay packets and our shopping bills throughout this year, and will also incorporate the lingering impact of the policy that dare not speak its name in many a quarter these days ( that of the B word).

Many have predicted that 2022 will be the ‘year of the squeeze’, (inevitably for some more than others), with real wages set to be no higher next Christmas than last, and families face a typical income hit of around £1,200 a year from April.

The think tank The Resolution Foundation’s latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook is pretty dismal reading. Inflation is set to peak at six per cent in Spring (its highest level since 1992) and pay packets stagnating as a result.

Real wage growth is unlikely to start growing again until the final quarter of 2022. By the end of 2024, real wages are set to be £740 a year lower than had the UK’s (already sluggish) pre-pandemic pay growth continued.

There is consensus that the peak of the impact will come in April, and we could face a ‘cost of living catastrophe’, as energy bills play their part in the unfolding situation.

The cap on such bills is expected to rise by around £500 a year, and coupled with a further £100 rise to recoup the costs associated with energy firm failures, this could mean a typical energy bill rising by around £600 a year.

We could face a "cost of living catastrophe" in April, warns Karen Adam MSP.
We could face a "cost of living catastrophe" in April, warns Karen Adam MSP.

Through the number of conversations with constituents and businesses that I engage with, it has become clear that what elected representatives at a local and national level can actually do to help the people they represent in such a predicament, is not effectively communicated.

I will never be an MSP that lives in an ivory tower and that is not why I entered politics.

Your elected representatives may not have all the answers to help you balance your budgets, but we are likely to know the people that do.

We can at least try and remove the stress and sleepless nights of the financial headaches that individuals and businesses will undoubtedly endure in the coming year.

As your MSP, and along with your local Councillors (and as was demonstrated in the wake of the storms last year), I and my team can assist you in a variety of practical ways, from making private enquiries on your behalf, to raising matters publicly at Holyrood, and a myriad of options in between. It actually works.

Keeping the issue private, we have regular contact with welfare and benefits specialists, we might write to the relevant department or official, send a letter to the appropriate minister or make a personal appointment to discuss the issue as appropriate.

These steps can often go a long way to providing a solution, when you need it most.

This rise will fall disproportionately on low-income families as they spend far more of their income on energy.

So let me and my team, help you, as we face these issues together. Use us, and let’s get through this together.

I can be contacted at Karen.Adam.msp@parliament.scot or by phone on 0131 348 5069.

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