Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar have called on the UK and Scottish governments to help people in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, telling Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon that “we can’t dither and delay when families need action”.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow this morning, the UK Labour leader reiterated the call for VAT on energy bills to be scrapped and “targeted action to save most households around £200 a year, or up to £600 for those who need it most”.
“Johnson and the Tories are scrambling to save their own skins, hopelessly distracted by a pending criminal investigation into their behaviour at Downing Street. That is why it isn’t enough to just oppose this Tory government from the sidelines of Westminster – we need to replace them in government,” Starmer said.
“Meanwhile, people across Scotland are worried about their bills, rising prices and how much it will cost to fill up the car next week. It has never been more clear that only the Labour Party is offering solutions to improve people’s lives.”
Labour called on the UK government to introduce a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies in response to rising living costs earlier this month. The party cited the “record profits” made by the companies as utility bills have risen.
Households across the UK are facing rapidly surging prices, including on utility bills. Research from Citizens Advice Scotland has found that already 36% of people say that they cannot afford their fuel bills.
“People are facing the rising cost of energy bills; they need help now. We can’t dither and delay when families need action,” Scottish leader Sarwar said today.
“It’s possible to act now using the powers in both the UK and Scottish parliaments – but the SNP and Tories are more interested in division than acting to ease the cost of living crisis. Only Labour has the big ideas to help build the future of Scotland.”
Sarwar and Starmer have called on the SNP government to use devolved powers to provide a £70 supplement to the winter fuel payment for low-income pensioners and struggling households. The SNP has so far ignored Scottish Labour’s calls for this.
Office of National Statistics analysis (ONS), published this morning, showed that housing costs, including energy bills, drove the annual inflation rate (based on the consumer prices index (CPI)) for low-income households to 5.4% in December – the highest level recorded since March 1992.
CPI has been criticised as a measure. Poverty campaigner Jack Monroe argued it provides only a “snapshot” and that, for some basic food stuffs like rice, pasta and stock cubes, prices have rocketed way beyond the official figures.
Monroe has campaigned for a new measure called the ‘Vimes Boots Index’, which is named after a passage in one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels that theorises that price increases hit poorer people harder than their more affluent counterparts.
The ONS announced this week that its method for measuring inflation will be overhauled to more accurately track how low-income families are hit by soaring prices. The statistics watchdog said it would begin posting more detailed inflation data from Friday as part of ongoing work to improve its statistics.
The ONS plans to begin publishing separate inflation statistics for people on different levels of income. It had done so in the past but data collection was interrupted by the pandemic, which meant lots of goods were no longer on sale.