Cost of Living

Treasury – in the House of Commons am ar 7 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Allan Dorans Allan Dorans Scottish National Party, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

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

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw

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

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Farming, Agriculture and Rural Affairs)

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

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The Office for Budget Responsibility expects UK living standards to grow in all years of the forecast period.

Photo of Allan Dorans Allan Dorans Scottish National Party, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

The Building Societies Association described the housing market as “broken”, with first-time homebuyers facing the toughest housing market conditions in 70 years. With the International Monetary Fund projecting interest rates to be around 5% for the remainder of the year and the Government rejecting the Scottish National party’s calls to reinstate mortgage interest relief, does the Chancellor anticipate any relief for first-time buyers in the near future?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The hon. Gentleman will know that the Bank of England is independent. The good news is that the OBR expects inflation rates to fall to near target in the very near future.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw

The Warm this Winter campaign has found that households will have to pay an additional £1.3 billion to help energy companies to cover bad energy debt. What assurance can the Minister give that the extra charge will be passed on to indebted customers to alleviate their debt burden, rather than it being allowed to just alleviate debt for energy companies?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

It is good news that energy prices are set to fall. The hon. Lady will know that the Chancellor abolished the surcharge in one of his first Budgets.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Farming, Agriculture and Rural Affairs)

The UK is set to have the highest level of inflation in the G7 and the lowest rate of growth in the entire OECD in 2025. Bizarrely, the Chancellor claimed ludicrously that the Tories are winning the war on inflation. With GDP per capita continuing to fall as part of the longest unbroken decline since records began, who does the Minister think in the real world really believes that this plan is working, and that the cost of living crisis is easing?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

It is important to note that inflation has more than halved since the Prime Minister took office, and is now at 3.2%. That will have a material impact on the cost of living pressures on households. In addition, support this year includes cutting national insurance rates across the UK and raising the local housing allowance. Benefits are up by 6.7%, the national living wage is up by 9.8%, and pensions are up by 8.5%. We are on the side of the British people.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation

As you know, Mr Speaker, it is not solely households who face increased cost pressures: businesses across our communities do as well, particularly small music venues, which are shutting at the rate of two a week. Ahead of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into that issue, what thought has the Minister given to a VAT cut for grassroots music venues across our constituencies?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I know my hon. Friend cares deeply about this matter. I know she has a report coming out in a few weeks, and I look forward to reading it.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Ceidwadwyr, Chipping Barnet

It is crucial to bring down inflation and ensure that we create the right climate for reductions in interest rates and further tax cuts. Does the Minister agree that is the best way to tackle the cost of living pressures?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

As ever, my right hon. Friend is absolutely right.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Ceidwadwyr, Buckingham

In the past financial year, Buckinghamshire Council supported 4,186 people struggling with the cost of living through the £4.8 million of funding from the household support fund. The council’s Helping Hand scheme continues, with £2.4 million of funding through to this September. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Buckinghamshire households who are struggling with the cost of living should get in touch with Buckinghamshire Council to get the help and support that they need from the Helping Hand scheme, which is funded by this Government?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

My hon. Friend is completely correct. The household support fund has done so much to help people struggling with the cost of living. I commend the way that Buckinghamshire Council has handed out the money, and, indeed, will continue to do so throughout the year.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

Westminster’s cost of living crisis disproportionately affects those on low incomes, young people, and people living in rural areas with limited travel options. One example is the soaring cost of car insurance, which is inexplicably higher in Scotland than in most other parts of the UK. A 22-year-old with five years’ driving experience might expect their premiums to go down, yet they pay on average £667 more than they did when they passed their test at the age of 17. Why are the UK Government doing absolutely nothing to hold insurance companies to account?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I cannot comment on the specifics of car insurance companies, but what I can say is that for people struggling with the cost of living, whatever form that struggle takes, working-age benefits are going up by 6.7% this year.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

Clearly, the Minister has paid no attention to this matter at all. This issue is exceptional to the UK. While prices for car insurance have more than doubled in the UK, they have gone up by only 18% across the EU over the same period, and car insurance has gone down by 20% in an independent Ireland. What are the reasons? Is it Brexit, or shameless profiteering? Or, as we suspect, has Westminster just given up on people in the cost of living crisis?

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I think that we have heard enough from the Brexit zombies on the other side of the Chamber.

Photo of Laura Trott Laura Trott The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I am, if the hon. Gentleman would just like to listen. The national living wage is up by 9.8% this year, which helps with exactly the type of costs that he is talking about.