As the government finally deliver their Autumn Financial Statement, in Hounslow, it’s the cost of living crisis that is at the top of everyone’s minds. As the Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston, I’ve heard from many constituents desperately worried about how they’ll manage rising costs this winter, and from schools stepping in to help make sure children have enough food to eat.
Tragically, 20% of lower-income households in London have regularly or occasionally gone without food this year due to their financial situation, and Londoners are paying on average £835 more each month on their mortgages this winter.
It’s clear for everyone to see that the government is not doing enough to help in the short term or the long term: Liz Truss’s disastrous ‘mini-budget’ sent the economy into meltdown, and Rishi Sunak refuses to apologise for what they did. Locally one family who has contacted me has seen mortgage repayments up by almost £500 a month. As households struggle with sky high inflation, rising fuel and energy prices and shops increasing the cost of items, families shouldn’t be paying the price for the government’s mistakes.
This is a time when Parliament needs to be heard. The Labour Party has put forward a costed plan keep the cost of living down this winter and in the long-term.
Ahead of the government, we announced that we would freeze the price cap, saving households £1000, with extra support for those who need it the most. A measure that would be funded by a windfall tax on the eye-wateringly excess profits of oil and gas companies, which have increased by billions in the past year. Last month reports showed that Shell had paid zero windfall tax in the UK despite making record global profits of nearly £26bn so far this year. It’s simply unfair. Labour has also called for those on prepayment meters to pay the same for energy as those who pay monthly.
But it’s not just local people in Hounslow who are seeing their costs rocket – our local businesses and public services are being hit too.
Last week in Parliament, I raised with the health secretary the issue of constituents in Feltham and Heston not being able to get a GP appointment. And when people do get appointments, they are finding that their GP keeps changing and care is inconsistent.
It’s no surprise that the minister was unable to suggest any solution from the government in his response, given that under the Conservatives the number of GPs has fallen by almost 5000.
As well as raising concerns in Parliament, I’m also working with our local council to help support residents as much as possible as the cost of living continues to rise.
I’m grateful that Hounslow Council is taking forward Cost of Living Marketplaces which I have helped to set up, where people who are struggling can access judgement-free financial advice and support. The next marketplace will be on the 3rd of December at Heston Community Centre. I have also put together a list of national and local organisations and hubs that could be helpful for local families which is available on my website.
To deal with this crisis we all need to come together to make sure our local households and families don’t go cold or hungry this winter and I am proud of our community spirit, which is seeing friends, neighbours, schools, charities and places of worship reach out to help where they can.
No one should feel they are on their own. Please do get in touch with your local MP or your councillors if you’ve got an issue you need help with, and I will continue to stand up in Parliament and in our local community to ensure that your voice is heard.