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Cost of Living

Volume 747: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2024

10. What assessment he has made of the potential impact of increases in the cost of living on households in 2024. (902065)

The rise in inflation caused by Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and the subsequent energy price shock has put enormous pressure on households. Thanks to work by the Bank of England and the Government, the rate of inflation is going down, with the Office for Budget Responsibility expecting it to be back to target next autumn.

Since the disastrous Tory mini-Budget of 2022, households are continuing to feel the squeeze at the supermarket, with food prices continuing to rise and real wages falling for the longest unbroken run since records began. Food prices have risen by 26% over the last two years. When will the Government listen to those who wish to follow the lead of Canada and France by introducing a price cap on staple food items at the supermarket?

Real wages are now, happily, starting to rise and, as I have said, the OBR has said that inflation will be back to target next quarter. What would not help the cost of living is putting people’s taxes up, as the Scottish Government are doing.

The tax burden is at a record high, wages are stagnant, rents and mortgages are up by hundreds of pounds, and food prices have gone up by 25%. The Resolution Foundation has confirmed that this is the only Parliament on record during which living standards have fallen. Our constituents deserve better. When is the Minister going to give the British public a chance to vote for change and call for a general election?

We have talked a lot today about the £400 billion of support that we put in during the pandemic and the £100 billion of support that we put in to support people during Putin’s energy price shock. The Labour party did not disagree with any of those things, and I think the hon. Lady in her heart of hearts will know that we have to pay for that—at least, I hope she does. We have had to take some difficult decisions, but because of that, the economy is turning a corner. We are able to reduce working people’s taxes, and I hope that she and her party will find it within themselves to support us in that endeavour.