Beth Winter – 2022 Speech on the Cost of Living Crisis

The speech made by Beth Winter, the Labour MP for Cynon Valley, in the House of Commons on 17 May 2022.

Living standards in the UK are plummeting under the Conservative Government. Working-class people are suffering. My constituents in the Cynon Valley are suffering, and I want the Government to know what they think. I recently completed a cost of living survey in my constituency. Within a couple of days, we had in excess of 650 responses. The survey’s preliminary findings are shocking and harrowing, to put it mildly. Ninety per cent of respondents said that they felt worse than they did this time last year and 80% reported that financial difficulties were affecting their mental health.

I want to give hon. Members a flavour of what people are enduring. Gwenno, a single parent who is self-employed, says:

“These price increases are making me feel ill and depressed and are giving me sleepless nights due to worrying. I feel like a failure for having to ask my children to limit the heating, eating less, not eating things they enjoy and not having days out or treats.”

Another constituent, Harri, is retired. He commented:

“I am desperately worried about paying my increased utility bills. I am retired on a fixed income. I will have to stop using the central heating, and I can’t think what else to do.”

I will publish the report in the next couple of weeks and will ensure that the Government get a copy.

I am incensed that the Queen’s Speech has ignored the action needed to help people with the cost of living crisis. Instead, it proposes a series of Bills that will fail to level up communities or incomes and fail to deal with regional and national inequality. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill should deal with inequality, but it will not. The Procurement Bill should deal with outsourcing waste, but it will not. The Government are pursuing draconian attacks on civil liberties through the Public Order Bill, the Bill of Rights, the boycotts Bill and the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill that allow them to deal with dissent. They have left out the promised employment Bill, and they continue to treat the sackings at P&O as a joke through their inadequate harbours Bill.

What we need, as has been said, is an emergency Budget to announce measures to deal with the cost of living crisis, a windfall tax on gas and oil giants and a wealth tax. We should also boost incomes, increase social security in line with inflation and ensure that the Government respect the devolution agreement. It is clear to me that the Government’s inaction is uncaring and leading to misery for millions of people.