Action Needed on Energy Rip Off & Soaring Food Prices
The UK Chancellor has been challenged to deliver a ‘Budget to Boost Incomes’ – with the SNP warning that the Tories must stop ripping families off and start putting money back into people’s pockets.
With less than a fortnight until the UK Budget, the SNP has called for a comprehensive package of support to boost household incomes, including an immediate U-turn on Tory plans to raise people’s energy bills by a further £500 from April.
A minimum £500 reduction in the level of the Energy Price Guarantee is again being demanded, as well as the continuation of the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payments beyond March for all families that currently receive them.
It comes as the wholesale price of gas fell by 75% since its peak in summer 2022, with the forecast cost of the Energy Price Guarantee falling from the £42 billion predicted in November to £26.8 billion – leaving the Treasury with a £15 billion underspend. In a new report, the IFS has also suggested UK government borrowing this year and next could come in around £30 billion lower than previously forecast, owing to lower energy prices and other factors.
At the same time, rising costs and inflationary pressures are pricing ordinary people out of essential food items – with grocery inflation reaching a record 17.1%.
The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel indicates that the increase over the past year meant that families faced a potential £811 annual rise in the cost of their regular shopping basket. This report follows the release of a survey on Monday revealing 27% of people often or sometimes could not afford to eat a balanced diet, with 13% having cut down meal size or skipped meals amidst the cost of living crisis.
This is also set against the backdrop of significant food shortages – exacerbated by Brexit – leaving supermarket shelves across the UK empty and prompting many stores to implement rationing on fresh items like salad products and tomatoes.
In light of all this, the SNP is calling for increased support for families more broadly – urging the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead in delivering higher public sector pay deals, and introducing a Real Living Wage for all workers.