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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:01 pm on 19th July 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 3:01 pm, 19th July 2022

It is not for Wales to come cap in hand to a Government in Westminster for what is rightly ours. We pay tax in Wales too and we are meant to be part of this United Kingdom. This is our money—we are not begging or asking for it. People in my constituency and across Wales are entitled to this money to help themselves. If the Minister will allow me, I will come on to the fact that in the recent uplift by the previous Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak), people in Wales got the equivalent of £9 a head, which is shocking and is nowhere near the amount of money that they need to survive the cost of living crisis.

We have done everything we can to empower local authorities such as mine to mobilise resources at a local level. The Welsh Government have held two cost of living summits attended by Welsh Government Ministers and key stakeholders from across Wales. Those events allowed grassroots organisations to directly inform the Welsh Government about the impact that the crisis is having on communities. In turn, they allowed the Welsh Government to target support at those most in need. I pay tribute to all involved in those summits for their incredible efforts to help the people of Wales.

Let us be clear that those measures pale in comparison with what the UK Tory Government have the economic firepower to achieve if only there was the political will. In Westminster, the Tories are completely asleep at the wheel. While the leadership contest continues to take centre stage, everyday working people and families will continue to struggle. Good governance starts at the top, which is why I am genuinely proud of the work that Mark Drakeford and the team in Wales are doing, despite the situation in Westminster.

Ultimately, people in Wales, including me, are tired of false promises. As we all know, the UK Government are the absolute kingmakers of gaslighting and U-turns. I cast hon. Members’ minds back to the spring statement, which I mentioned. The then Chancellor briefed the press that he was set to announce bold measures to support people through the cost of living crisis. He promised an increase in Welsh Government funding of just £27 million over the next year, which, as I stated, amounts to £9 a person in Wales.

It should shame the UK Government to treat us in Wales with such contempt. They try to palm off responsibility to the devolved Administrations, but refuse to properly fund their efforts. The Welsh Government have moved heaven and earth to mobilise their considerably limited resources, yet the Tories in Westminster refuse to act. It took relentless pressure from Labour for the UK Tory Government to eventually—reluctantly—endorse a windfall tax on North sea oil and gas, or, as the then Chancellor insisted we call it, because he cannot even admit that it was Labour’s idea, the energy profits levy. But they should have implemented it months ago and, for many, the support that the windfall tax will fund will simply be too little, too late.

The Welsh Government have announced that the Welsh fuel support scheme will return this winter to help those in need by providing a one-off £200 payment for their bills. That will bring significant relief to tens of thousands of Welsh residents, and I welcome the commitment of the Minister for Social Justice last week to support people who will struggle this winter. Without UK Government support, however, that will still not be enough.

When I wrote this speech, four candidates remained in the Tory leadership contest; now we have three. To the best of my knowledge, Wales has not been mentioned once—not by a single one of them. It is clear that whoever wins the leadership will continue to forget about Wales and that, sadly, it will be a case of business as usual.

Despite the Welsh Government’s limited resources, their actions show that Labour will always stand shoulder to shoulder with the country’s most vulnerable. The cost of living crisis is not going away in Wales or across the UK, so I implore the Government to do the right thing, to take responsibility, to see the crisis for what it is and to act today to reach solutions.