North West Norfolk MP James Wild discusses high energy bills and Ukraine
Energy company warnings to MPs this week about even higher bills to come were striking when there is a lot of concern as people struggle to make ends meet.
That these price increases are largely driven by global factors as economies reopen, combined with the effects of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, doesn’t help pay the bills. And inflation running at 7 per cent – the highest rate for 30 years – is creating real difficulties.
While the Government cannot simply wish away those effects, it can and must help those most in need to try and ease the burden.
This month more than 80 per cent of households in North West Norfolk will be receiving a £150 council tax rebate. It will be paid automatically for anyone paying by direct debit, otherwise the council will be in contact on how to claim.
This is part of a £9.1 billion package to help with increasing energy bills including a rebate on electricity bills so support also helps off-gas grid homes.
As a Conservative, I believe that people should keep more of the money that they earn. That’s why I back the increase in the national insurance threshold from July which will mean working families will benefit from £330 a year, with 70 per cent of people paying less tax even after the health and social care levy. Increasing the National Living Wage rate to £9.50 is worth an extra £1,000 a year for a full-time worker.
Throughout Covid, local authorities have played a vital role in supporting vulnerable people and that continues today. Through the Household Support Fund, Norfolk County Council has helped 52,385 households over a 6-month period – 42,000 with children. That scheme is being extended with around £7 million more to help those in financial hardship and the borough council has access to other discretionary funding.
However, as the cost-of-living increases, there are still pensioners who are not getting support they qualify for which could be worth over £3,300 a year. Even a small amount of Pension Credit can open the door to other support including a free TV licence, help with council tax, and the Warm Home Discount.
Anyone who thinks they might be eligible can make a claim by calling the Department of Work and Pensions claim line on 0800 99 1234, by post, or online.
The biggest contribution to the increase in inflation has been fuel bills. That’s why in the Spring Budget fuel duty was cut by 5p per litre. But in recent weeks it has been a struggle to simply to fill up thanks to protestors stopping fuel leaving depots.
Hundreds of people have been arrested with some convictions already secured. Stronger powers to deal with such dangerous and criminal action are being considered in Parliament. Yet Labour and the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly opposed them. I know whose side I am on.
The support measures in place are helping to reduce some of the pressures and come as we are forecast to pay £83 billion in debt interest. Along with continuing to offer such help, focusing on growing our economy, and getting more into work must remain the priority.