Cost of Living Crisis: Wales — Caroline Nokes in the Chair

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 19th July 2022.

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Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:30 pm, 19th July 2022

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. The workshops sound an excellent idea. People are desperate and need such ideas. She is quite right that the obvious inactivity of the Government is the problem. This debate today is not about party politics or short-term political gain; it is about people’s lives. It is about housing, food, and the ability to have the fan on and be able to pay the bill. It is about survival.

Another Newport West resident wrote to me:

“I have one daughter, 12 years old. I am in full time employment and on benefits. I have cancer. Even before the surge in energy prices many people like me have been struggling to afford the essentials. The cost of weekly food shopping has risen, so has the cost of energy. My rent also increased recently. I have had to make cut backs on most things.”

Like colleagues across Wales, and indeed the House, I came into politics to make Newport West, Wales and our United Kingdom a better, fairer and more equal place to live, learn and work, and that remains my single focus. I hope today to give Ministers the chance to tell us how they can help us make life better for the people of Wales, but I am afraid that the response from Conservatives in Westminster and in Cardiff Bay to their cost of living crisis has been nothing short of insulting. They are out of touch, out of ideas and now out of time.

We cannot wait another day to act, because local people are worried about paying their bills and looking after their families, and have no basic survival abilities. At the same time, Ministers seem to be seriously suggesting that the answers to the challenges facing local people are dodgy loans and Tesco value products. The only conclusion I can draw from those suggestions is that the Conservatives are living on another planet. Although we are pleased to see the back of the caretaker Prime Minister, the current contest for the leadership of the Tory party means that we have no real Government in power. No decisions are being taken and there is no ambition for the people of Wales. There is no commitment to addressing their needs and no plan to get our country out of this mess.

That inaction stands in stark contrast to the decent and pragmatic leadership of the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford. The Welsh Labour Government are not just on the side of the people of Wales; they spend every day doing what they can to mitigate the impact of the Tory cost of living crisis. They have taken a number of steps, which I am sure other hon. Members will mention. In addition to those things, free prescriptions continue to help people across Wales to keep more of their hard-earned money. I note that prescriptions in England under this Conservative Government are currently £9.35 per item.