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Cost of Living

Volume 717: debated on Wednesday 6 July 2022

6. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on providing support with the cost of living for people in Wales. (900872)

8. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the cost of living support for households in Wales. (900874)

My ministerial colleagues and I fully accept that there is a cost of living challenge, but this country has faced some exceptional challenges over the past few years, including a global pandemic and a European land war. We have responded vigorously by providing £37 billion to help households across the UK through these challenges.

Does the Minister agree that the best way to help people in Wales with the cost of living is to deliver our long-term plan to grow the economy, increase productivity and reduce people’s taxes?

I agree completely with my right hon. Friend. Households across the whole United Kingdom will be receiving a cost of living support payment worth £650 this month. By contrast the Welsh Labour Government want to spend £100 million to increase the number of Welsh Senedd Members. Some people believe in levelling up, but I am afraid that Opposition Members believe in leaving people behind and spending more money on further politicians.

Across the UK, 8 million low-income households will get £1,200 in financial support to help with rising electricity and gas bills. Would not the £100 million being spent by the Welsh Government on extra politicians in Cardiff be better directed at helping those families?

I fully agree with my hon. Friend. Not only will households receive an extra £1,200, but next week, 8 million households on means-tested benefits will get an extra £326 in their bank accounts; in September, 6 million people on disability benefits will receive a £150 payment; and in October, £400 will come off households’ energy bills. There is much more to follow, because the Government believe in levelling up, not in spending £100 million on extra Senedd Members.

In spite of parliamentary questions, we still have no answers about how people who have their permanent residence in park homes or similar in Wales, who receive their energy bills via a third party, can receive the £400 discount. Will the Minister speak to his ministerial colleagues to sort that out so that those people can receive the money in a timely fashion?

The hon. Lady has not actually contacted me about the issue previously, but it is a reasonable one to raise and I would be happy to see any correspondence from her on it.

Unsurprisingly, the UK Government have repeatedly broken their promises to fund Wales to the tune of nearly £800 million, and they are blatantly trying to undermine devolution at every opportunity. Can the Minister tell me how that serves the Welsh people when they are struggling with the cost of living crisis? While he is at it, can he tell us why he is still propping up a broken Government who promote an abuser and then lie about it?

That statement is completely incorrect. Prior to Brexit, Wales received around £343 million a year in structural funds and £337 million a year was spent on agriculture. Post Brexit, the sums will be exactly the same. My question is why Opposition Members are still supporting a Government in Wales who have left us with lower education standards; lower standards in healthcare; and more taxes on business, such as a tourism tax and a tax on wine producers. Why do they now want to spend £100 million of taxpayers’ money on extra politicians? Those are the questions to which the people of Wales would like to know the answers.

The Conservatives’ cost of living crisis is hitting Wales hard. The soaring costs of energy, fuel and food have been compounded by crippling increases in tax and national insurance. The meagre 5p cut to fuel duty has proved wholly inadequate and energy costs are due to rise even further this autumn. It is clear that the Government have run out of not only ideas but Ministers. Will the Minister commit to speaking to whoever holds the post of Chancellor this afternoon about taking immediate further action to tackle the cost of living crisis?

We have already acknowledged that there is a cost of living crisis, which was partly caused by having to spend £400 billion on getting us through the covid pandemic and by a European land war. Of course, we are doing everything we can to support people through these difficult times, which is why we are spending £37 billion on support for hard-hit households and why we have introduced a new 25% energy profits levy on oil and gas companies, which will raise about £5 billion of revenue that will also go to relieving the burden on families.