Politically Speaking with Yvette Cooper: Our government is failing to support families

Prices are going up. Energy bills are going up. Taxes are going up.

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 10:30 am

Yvette Cooper writes: Across our towns, families and pensioners are feeling really stretched right now.

But the government isn’t just failing to help, it is making things worse.

There are common sense things that ministers could be doing right now that would ease the pressure on people in our area, but they are refusing to act.

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LOCAL HELP: Food banks are doing a brilliant job and are needed now more than ever. Photo: Adobe

I’m urging them to think again.

Inflation is now over five per cent as prices in the shops are rising.

Go to the supermarket, and money just doesn’t go as far as it did this time last year.

Over the last few weeks I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me how worried they are about soaring fuel bills.

One new dad in Pontefract told me he was worried about how to manage the mortgage with a new baby and rising bills.

A Normanton pensioner told me she switches all the heating off during the day no matter how cold it gets.

And in Airedale last week it was raised by almost everyone I spoke to.

Businesses are under pressure too.

One local nursery owner told me last week that they know how much parents are being squeezed, but the government is putting up their business rates so they are being forced to put their prices up, just to keep afloat.

A local fish and chip shop owner told me how his energy bills were rocketing but he didn’t want to put prices up as he knew some of his elderly customers won’t be able to afford it.

Wakefield Council is doing its best to help.

They’ve provided grants to low income households to help pay their bills and their Money Smart and Help at the Hub schemes can provide advice.

Contact them on 0345 8506 506 to get support.

Local food banks are also doing a brilliant job.

Community heroes like Kath Scott and Paul Green deliver food parcels each week to make sure local children don’t go hungry.

But the government should be doing its bit too instead of making things worse.

For a start they should be taking proper action to cut family energy bills.

North sea oil and gas companies are making record profits because international prices are soaring.

So why not have a windfall tax on their profits and use that money to cut family and pensioner energy bills instead.

That is fair and common sense. Yet Ministers are still refusing to properly tax the oil companies and have offered temporary loans instead that people will struggle to pay back.

They are badly out of touch with the pressures on people in towns like ours if they think that is a good idea.

Incredibly they are also planning to hit thousands of working people in our towns with higher national insurance contributions in April just at the same time as gas bills go up again.

They need to think again.

Supporting families through tough times isn’t rocket science it is just basic fairness – something this government is failing to understand.

Anyone facing financial hardship can go to one of the nine ‘Help at the Hub’ locations go to https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/more-money-in-my-pocket/help-at-the-hub