‘We’re all in this together’, that’s what George Osborne said just before the Conservatives took power in 2010. We were told it as we lost jobs and services, as families saw their taxes go up and the cost-of-living bite deep, as the wealthy became the super-wealthy and saw their taxes cut. While the UK Government cannot be blamed for the global pandemic or the war in the Ukraine, the reality is years of poor decision-making by the Conservatives, fully supported by Crawley’s MP, has left most local families in a far poorer financial condition for surviving the challenges ahead than should have been the case.
Following a decade of lost growth and stagnant incomes, with out-of-control property prices, the tax burden shifted from high-earning to medium and low earning households, and the loss of social security, families are now facing an unprecedent cost-of-living crisis.
This month we are enduring a total increase in Crawley’s energy bill of £30.3m, set to rise still further in six months when the war in the Ukraine leaves its mark. Meanwhile fuel and food continue to see big price hikes, and the cost of housing continues ever upward.
We cannot go back in time to undo the Conservatives’ mistakes, but they do have a duty to households make ends meet, starting with cancelling obvious new mistakes. Increasing the National Insurance tax which will not only hit incomes hard right when people can’t afford it, but also put a tax on job creation. An outgoing member of the Government’s own Budget Responsibility Committee made it clear that following through with the increase could only be explained by party politics, not economics.
On food, housing, fuel and energy costs real Government action is possible. For instance, instead of forcing Crawley families to take out a collective £8.6m in debt as part of their energy plans, the Government should follow Labour’s plan to use a windfall tax on the bumper profits of oil and gas companies to help reduce people’s energy bills. None of this is rocket science, we just need a Government with our interests at heart.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough council