RICHARD LOCHHEAD: Response from UK Government has been a 'drop in the ocean'
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Pressure on household budgets is really starting to mount and people across Moray will be deeply worried about their finances after energy prices soared at the start of April.
I said in my last column – in the run up to the UK Chancellor’s Spring Statement – that a serious response from the UK Government was needed to help people through this crisis.
Sadly, Rishi Sunak and the UK Government failed to provide any substantial support to those households on the brink of crisis due to the soaring cost of living. Families at breaking point were looking to the Chancellor to provide meaningful support but have been abandoned.
Much was made of the 5p cut in fuel duty but in reality that’s a drop in the ocean with prices at forecourts remaining at eye-watering prices.
According to the RAC, the cost of filling a family car with petrol was a third higher in March that it was a year ago. The Chancellor’s 5p fuel duty cut has done nothing to protect motorists.
No new help was announced to help households with skyrocketing energy bills. All we get is the already announced ‘buy now pay later’ £200 loan.
People are set to be worse off by thousands of pounds a year and we need the UK Government to go much further – or else millions of households across the UK will be plunged into fuel poverty.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to help those worst affected. All eight devolved benefits have been uprated by 6 per cent from April 1 and the Scottish Child Payment is being double to £20 per week per eligible child.
Scottish Ministers are also making a further £10m available for the Fuel Insecurity Fund to support those struggling the most and have expanded the Home Energy Scotland advice service by 20 per cent to offer advice to all households in Scotland on making homes warmer and greener.
We also need a more stable form of energy supply and the current crisis only adds to the need to accelerate the development of alternative sources of energy.
Scotland has among the richest renewable energy producing potential in the world but is unfairly penalised when it comes to the transmission charges applied.
Last week I met with Moray Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to discuss the impact of the cost of living crisis and Universal Credit cuts on local people.
Their team of advisers are doing a power of work supporting people in Moray and can offer advice on debt, benefits, housing, money matters, energy saving and much more.
The support they offer is free and confidential and I would urge anyone in Moray who is worried about any of these issues to contact CAB to get some advice.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be reaching out to local organisations to look at how we can work together to support families in Moray struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis.
I will also continue to lobby the UK Government to go further to help those bearing the brunt of the Chancellor’s inaction.
Anyone in Moray struggling should feel free to contact my office and my team will do all we can to help.
I can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01343 545077.