Lisa Nandy MP: Working people are paying the price
In his speech to Conservative Party conference last week the Prime Minister talked more about beavers than he did about the cost-of-living crisis.
It was a bizarre spectacle to see the Prime Minister laugh and joke in the same week that more than 10,000 families in Wigan alone had just been told they were losing £20 a week in Universal Credit.
He had nothing to say about the spiralling costs of energy, fuel and food and nothing on the Government’s decision to ditch their manifesto promise and raise taxes for working families and businesses.
In recent weeks every day has brought more chaos under this Government and working people are paying the price.
Whether you voted leave, remain or didn’t vote at all in the EU referendum, the Government has had five years to plan.
After five years, they still have no plans to deal with shortages of skilled workers in key occupations. We knew which gaps would emerge, yet apprenticeships uptake is low and we’re falling behind on training the workers we need.
This failure has left us with a lack of lorry drivers, petrol shortages and gaps in supermarke shelves which are disrupting people’s lives.
I am inundated with requests for help from small businesses who are hit hard by this chaos and fear they may not survive.
Inflation is rising so fuel and food prices are going up. Soon, energy bills will rise again threatening to plunge half a million more families into fuel poverty.
Shortly after that, people will feel another hit from the increase in National Insurance contributions and the Government’s planned Council Tax hike.
We’re also facing major labour and skills shortages that will make disruption worse. We’re not able to hire people into the right jobs or keep them there because conditions are s poor.
Yet despite the seriousness of the situation, the behaviour of the Prime Minister and other members of the Government in recent weeks has shown how out of touch they are with the strain that is being put on people’s lives.
While farmers were begging the Government for support to tackle the shortage of vets and butchers that could result in a cull of over 100,000 pigs, the Prime Minister joked about bacon sandwiches.
In the face of rising energy costs the Business Secretary was forced to deny reports that the Government is asking people simply to turn off the heating and wear a jumper.
When he said he was working with the Treasury to address the concerns raised by industries most affected by soaring energy costs the Treasury denied it and said he was “making things up”.
It is time for someone in Government to get a grip.
To help turn things around and end the ongoing chaos Labour would take a much different approach.
We’d stop the unfair hike in National Insurance contributions and reverse the cut in Universal Credit.
Working people should not take yet another hit from this Government’s poor management of the economy.
We would get our roads and goods moving again, getting enough HGV drivers on the road quickly.
We’d appoint a Minister for the supply chain crisis; extend the limited number of short-term temporary visas to meet the immediate shortage of drivers; and use that time to recruit and train new drivers in Britain for the long term.
We would urgently train up as many people as we can in the occupations where the wors shortages in workers exists while also focusing on the areas where we expect to see mor labour shortages down the line such as food manufacturing and warehousing.
We would drive-up work conditions and pay immediately with a new deal for working people and improved rights from day one.
We would lay out a long-term plan to ensure the country has secure and affordable energy supplies for households and businesses in the future.
The Prime Minister was warned about the cost-of-living crisis and he did nothing about it.
The jokes are wearing thin. This country needs a plan. It’s time to get a grip.
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