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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 19th July 2022.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 3:30 pm, 19th July 2022

Very well. In that case, I will echo two points made by Ben Lake. We need a cap on the price of heating oil. As he said, so many homes in Wales have no alternative at all. They are off grid; they cannot use gas. I approached the Minister of State for Energy in March this year, and he said that it was not going to work because of a survey done in 2011 that said so. How different is our situation now from March of this year, let alone 2011? The first point made by the hon. Member for Ceredigion is absolutely correct. His constituents—and I might say, sotto voce, mine too—are petrified of their bills. They are really terrified. I am the oldest member of the Lib Dem group in this place; I am getting on. I know that old people feel the cold more than young people, and they worry about money more than young people. I go back to my young friend who I mentioned earlier on, who is trying to balance a budget. It is a pretty desperate situation.

The other point made by hon. Member for Ceredigion was about the lack of choice other than to use a car. The price hike on petrol and diesel is really cutting into budgets. Some years ago, a scheme was put in place for certain parts and certain postcodes of the UK. As he said, we seek to extend that to other needy areas, such as Wales and—dare I mention, also sotto voce; I fear that I am sailing close to the wind—the north of Scotland..

I have one final point, in a Welsh context. There is such a thing as digital poverty. We have social tariffs, but their take-up is lamentable. When we look at a food bank anywhere in the UK, many of those people would not quite quality for the Department for Work and Pensions triggers to be put forward for a social tariff. However, we still look at them and say, “I bet you need help.” We need to mobilise. All of us—the Government—need to think about getting people access to social tariffs. It is about information, and working through local authorities and, maybe, banks. Who knows? There could be a huge, much bigger take-up, which would help families all over the UK to balance their budgets.