Yvonne Fovargue MP: We're facing a cost of living crisis

We’re facing a cost of living crisis and a growing cost to business, with petrol, food and energy bills skyrocketing.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 8:56 am
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue

Working families deserve security, prosperity and respect, but they aren’t getting it.

The Conservatives are guilty of a decade of dither, delay and poor planning on Britain’s energy sector.

The government has failed to meet the vast potential of British renewable and nuclear energy, failed to make more homes warm and well-insulated, and failed to properly regulate our energy market, leading to dozens of energy companies going bust.

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The result is rapidly rising prices and an energy crisis hitting millions, including many in Wigan. This cost of living crisis will define the year ahead unless action is taken now to support households across the borough.

To address the immediate crisis, I support measures to reduce the expected price rise in April - saving most households around £200 or more – but targeted extra support to squeezed middle, pensioners and the lowest earners, receiving up to £600 off bills and preventing all of the increase in energy bills currently expected falling on the poorest households.

This would be paid for with a one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas producers who have profited from price rises.

It is crucial that we keep energy bills lower in the future. To do this we must as a nation reduce Britain’s reliance on imported gas by accelerating home-grown renewables and new nuclear, make sure 19 million homes are warm and well-insulated and regulate the market better, to never again let energy companies play fast and loose with the rules.

There is a global gas price crisis, but 10 years of the Conservative’s failed energy policy, dither and delay has created a price crisis that’s being felt by people, and I want to stop bills going up

It is entirely right that the energy producers which are benefitting from this crisis are asked to pay their fair share. Health and care workers have been at the heart of the fight against coronavirus, working day and night to save lives.

They do so much to make our health service one to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration and full support.

I recognise that mandatory vaccination for health and care staff is a difficult issue. But the NHS has asked for it and I am persuaded that the continued threat of COVID-19, and the challenges presented by new variants, makes it even more important for staff to be vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect the public they serve.

It is vital, however – ahead of mandatory vaccinations coming into force from April 2022 - that the Government engages with the workforce and works in partnership with staff trade unions and Royal Colleges, to ensure their concerns are fully considered and addressed.

Concerns about the impact of these measures on the workforce are understandable, especially as our NHS and social care sector went into this pandemic with chronic staff shortages and hardworking staff suffering burnout.

Indeed, I shared these concerns ahead of vaccinations being made mandatory for care home staff in November last year.

But I am reassured that we did not see a collapse in the social care workforce that was warned of, and there is evidence of a positive impact on vaccine take-up.

Nevertheless, I urge the Government – who are asking the health and social care workforce to do their duty as professionals – to show greater respect to their professional voice and experience, on pay, conditions, and workload.

It is often said that the NHS runs on goodwill, so I would like to see the Government showing greater goodwill in return and engaging with the Royal Colleges and staff trade unions, not just on the plan for vaccine roll-out to their members, but on the debate about the future of our health and social care systems and the significant and immediate workforce challenges.

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