I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues, including the cost of living. The Government have made certain that the state pension, benefits and the minimum wage have all risen in line with inflation. Last winter, the Government’s energy support schemes saw them paying about half the average fuel bills for homeowners across the United Kingdom.
The Bridgend food bank and the Baobab Bach food pantry are running out of food. My constituents in Ogmore and those across the Bridgend borough literally cannot afford to pay for the weekly shop. What work is the Secretary of State doing to tackle the significant access-to-food crisis that is impacting constituents in the Bridgend county borough and right across Wales?
As I have already mentioned, the Government have made sure that pensions, benefits and the minimum wage have risen in line with inflation. There have been other payments as well, with £900 to households on benefits, £300 to pensioners and £100 to those in households where there have been disabilities. The Government have made certain at all times to prioritise the least well off. May I respectfully suggest that the hon. Gentleman should listen to the earlier questions and suggest that the Welsh Government stop spending money on extra politicians and put that back into communities where it is needed?
Polling of 2,000 people by Public Health Wales found that about eight in 10 Welsh citizens are either worried or very worried about the rising cost of living, with almost half saying that it will have a negative impact on their mental health. Similar concerns have been expressed in Scotland. What consideration have the Secretary of State and his Cabinet colleagues given to the SNP’s call for a £400 energy rebate as winter approaches?
As I said, in addition to the Government’s priority on supporting the least well-off and the fact that the Government paid around half of people’s energy bills during the last winter, we will continue to prioritise those who are having difficulties. If the hon. Lady is really worried about a cost of living crisis and the impact on energy, she will do well to revisit her party’s policy of getting rid of the oil and gas industry in the UK, including in Scotland—something that would cost 200,000 jobs and have a terrible impact on energy prices for homeowners across the United Kingdom.
The Wrexham-Flintshire investment zone bid could bring huge benefits to my region, including more and better-paid jobs. An investment zone requires collaboration between the Welsh and UK Governments. There is a possibility that the UK Government could support two zones in Wales, but the Welsh Government have yet to give me a commitment to a second zone. If they do, will the UK Government also commit?
I can assure my hon. Friend that I have made a very strong case to Cabinet colleagues for two investment zones in Wales. She is right that we need the co-operation of the Welsh Labour Government. I suggest that she, and any Members who represent north Wales, write to the Welsh Labour Government’s economic development Minister and suggest that Welsh Government prioritise two investment zones for Wales. We would be delighted to work with them when they get around to doing that.