Martyn Day – 2022 Speech on the Cost of Living Crisis

The speech made by Martyn Day, the SNP MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, in the House of Commons on 17 May 2022.

I probably should not be that surprised that the Queen’s Speech does nothing to tackle the Tories’ cost of living crisis, because they have done virtually nothing over recent years on the underlying causes. Many of my constituents fall into the groups that are hardest hit—the poorest, the elderly and those in remote parts of the country. They are being hammered by soaring inflation, fuel prices and energy prices, yet the Government have continually dragged their feet over the energy crisis. They have had to be forced to debate fuel poverty and energy price caps, but sadly without any effective outcomes.

The publication of the energy strategy and the announcement of the energy Bill offer nothing either to help with the cost of living crisis or to improve energy efficiency, which would permanently help to reduce people’s bills. The rise in energy prices impacts hardest on the poorest families in our society. The poorest single adult households are now spending 54% of income, after housing costs, on energy. That is simply not sustainable.

The Queen’s Speech is yet another example of missed opportunities. It fails to fix known problems with universal credit, such as the five-week wait, the benefit cap and the two-child limit, pushing more families further into hardship. It does nothing about the appalling state of pensions in the UK. We have the worst pensions in Europe; they are equivalent to 20% of average earnings, compared with the OECD average of 40%. That is utterly appalling, and many of our pensioners now face the stark choice between heating and eating. The abandonment of the triple lock on pensions takes hundreds of pounds out of their pockets at the very time when energy bills are soaring through the roof and they face serious issues over food security and prices.

We should not forget either that, even before the current turbocharging of this crisis, malnutrition in the UK has tripled—I state that again: it has tripled—since the Tories came to power in 2010. One in 20 people in the UK are affected by malnutrition and this Government’s inaction will only make that situation worse.

This week, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, said:

“It is a very, very difficult place for us to be. To forecast 10% inflation and then say…‘There’s not a lot we can do about 80% of it’”.

I will tell the House what I would do about it: we need an emergency Budget; we need to slash VAT on fuel prices; and we need to impose a windfall tax on the companies that have benefited both through the pandemic and in the current crisis. I say to my constituents in Scotland: if you want joined-up policy making from Government and to tackle these issues, you need to get independence, because we will not get the action here.