Yvette Cooper MP: Government has badly let the country down

The Queen’s Speech in parliament is a fantastic British tradition, full of pomp and ceremony with Black Rod and Silver Stick, carriages and the crown.

By Jane Chippindale
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 7:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 9:02 am

Yvette Cooper MP writes: It was the first one without the Queen herself in her 70 long years on the throne and all of us were wishing her well as we look forward to celebrating her remarkable Platinum Jubilee next month.

But there’s serious government business behind the Queen’s speech too.

The words are written by ministers and it is supposed to be when they set out a proper plan for parliament and the country.

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QUEEN’S SPEECH: State Opening of Parliament on May 10. Photo: Getty Images

At a time when the cost of living is shooting up, and when families and pensioners are facing huge pressure, that is where the government badly let the country down.

Food prices have already gone up and that’s expected to get worse. A record two million people across the country say they go without food for a day at a time to make ends meet.

Many people are seeing their energy bills double. And inflation is hitting levels not seen since the Queen’s Ruby Jubilee in the early 80s.

So yes, as I walked across to the House of Lords to hear the speech, I hoped there would be new measures to help local families and pensioners with the increasing pressures, especially energy bills and rising food prices.

Astonishingly there was nothing.

Nothing for all those worried about their energy bills.

Nothing for the Castleford pensioners I talked to last week who are desperately trying to make the same money stretch further so they can pay their heating bills.

Nothing for the Normanton small business I spoke to which is worried about whether customers will stay home because their money is now so tight.

Instead over the last few days we’ve heard one Conservative MP suggest that the answer is for people on low incomes to learn how to cook.

Another suggested people just need to work more hours.

They just don’t get it.

For months, we have warned the government they need to act. Yet instead, unbelievably the chancellor put taxes up right in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

Still the government is refusing to put a windfall tax on oil and gas profits and to use that money to cut energy bills.

That’s shameful. Companies like Shell and BP have made record profits just because international prices have gone up. Those extra profits should be taxed in order to cut energy bills for ordinary households.

Since the Queen’s speech did nothing to help with the cost of living crisis, I’m calling for an emergency budget to bring in a windfall tax and other plans to put things right.

Wakefield Council is doing its bit with community hubs that can provide extra support for people facing financial difficulties in every town https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/more-money-in-my-pocket/help-at-the-hub. But I’m calling for urgent government action before things get worse.

There’s also a deeper problem here. Part of the reason things are difficult is because the economy hasn’t grown strongly enough for over 10 years. We need a proper plan to boost the Yorkshire economy.

When people need help, the government should be showing proper leadership, stepping up and helping people get by.

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Yvette Cooper MP: Our towns deserve so much more than this