Tackling Crawley’s Cost of Living Crisis, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 12th January 2022

The 2015 General Election seems a long time ago now, David Cameron promising to provide stability and strong Government, the Conservatives claiming that Ed Miliband would deliver chaos, and Labour referring to the ‘cost of living crisis’ so much that it became a joke in the press.

I guess we’ll never know how Ed Miliband’s Government could have possibly been more chaotic than the five years followed, with three Prime Ministers and the tearing apart of much of the British state and economy. Yet, by not taking Britain’s cost of living crisis seriously, our Government has allowed the problem to grow worse every year.

People can see it in the staggering cost of housing, in the ever-rising prices in the shops and in their extortionate utility bills. We’re living in an era of self-driving cars, quantum computing, and machine learning, the only reason millions of people in England today are facing Victorian living conditions are the political choices of our current government.

Energy is a clear area where solutions are possible and yet the Conservatives are choosing not to act. Yes, we need to do more to conserve energy, but you can’t have a situation where thousands of Crawley’s households are being forced to choose between eating or staying warm over winter.

The Labour Party has been pushing the Government to accept a one year cut in VAT on energy bills to enable households survive the current period of record high energy prices. This shouldn’t be a hard sell, Boris Johnson has himself previously pledged to scrap the tax on energy bills and as a country we’d clearly hope that the leader of the Conservative Party had some integrity.

Yet, short-term solutions aren’t enough. A decade of mis-investment in our energy system helped create the current crisis and that’s why Labour is also calling for a long-term approach to delivering energy security for the UK, including reducing reliance on imported gas through accelerating domestic new renewable and nuclear energy production, ensuring decent insulation for 19m homes, and introducing effective regulation of the sector to prevent companies from abusing the rules.

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