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Cost of Living

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

Rising global prices have increased the cost of living for families here in Britain. This coalition Government will do everything we can to help. We have already frozen council tax, kept mortgage bills low and abolished the fuel duty escalator. I can tell people that we will now stop any rise in fuel duty this August and freeze it for the rest of the year. This means that fuel duty will be 10p a litre lower than planned by the last Labour Government. We are on the side of working families and businesses, and this will fuel our recovery at this very difficult economic time for the world. The one-off cost of this change will be fully paid for by the larger than forecast savings in departmental budgets, and we will set out details of those, as usual, in the autumn statement.

If I were not on crutches I would be jumping for joy. The people of Cornwall will really welcome this move, which proves once more that this Government are on the side of hard-working families.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I know this news will be welcome in Cornwall, as across the country. I repeat: because of the actions we have taken today and in recent Budgets, petrol duty is 10p a litre lower than it would have been under the Budget plans voted for by the Labour party. We are on the side of working families, we are helping motorists, helping businesses—doing everything we can in very difficult circumstances for the world.

I am glad that the Chancellor is beginning to listen to the shadow Chancellor. However, the Government’s own figures show that cuts to tax credits are leaving thousands of parents up to £72 a week worse off, and some are better off if they quit their jobs. With the cost of living rising and the economy in double-dip recession, surely it is time we saw a U-turn on this perverse policy, to make sure that work pays.

First, all families, if we take into account the benefit and tax changes, are £5.50 better off a week from April, and we have actually increased tax credits for the poorest families. We have had to make difficult welfare changes. They were completely opposed by the Labour party, which also opposed the cap on welfare benefits. We have to ask the question: what would Labour Members do to get control of the budget deficit that they created? We have had two years and not a single answer from Labour. That is why, as I say, we are the people trusted to lead this country out of the economic mess that they put us in.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is astonishing that Opposition Members do not welcome his announcement to cut the fuel duty that they proposed when they were in government? Does he agree that this Government will focus everything they can on cutting the cost of living for hard-working people?

We should judge people by actions as well as words, and Labour Members voted for increases in fuel duty, which this Government have stopped. That is because we are on the side of working families, whereas Labour Members are simply on the side of the economic mess that they created.