Warwick and Leamington MP warns that 'cost of living tsunami will cost lives' this winter

Matt Western was speaking in parliament yesterday (Tuesday) as his constituents are faced with the UK gas crisis, inflation "rising to startling levels", a National Insurance tax increase and a cut to the £20 Universal Credit uplift

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has spoken in Parliament to raise his grave concerns about a "cost of living tsunami" faced by his constituents and others across the UK which, he fears, "could cost lives" this coming winter.

People across the nation are faced with an energy crisis, rising inflation, a National Insurance tax increase and a cut to the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

Speaking yesterday, the Labour MP said: "The cost of living tsunami that families will be facing in Warwick and Leamington and across this country this winter shows how out of touch this Government is.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western

"Instead of making positive plans to tackle this I am afraid the Government is simply making it worse.

"We have the National Insurance and council tax increase and now we have the Universal Credit cut.

"The Government is failing to tackle the supply chain disruption, which has been exacerbated by Covid and Brexit.

"We have rail fare increases, energy [cost] increases and rising rents.

"But the Government seems to be happy to waste huge amounts of taxpayer money in outsourcing and crony contracts.

"This Goverment seems to know little about the true cost of living."

As a Warwickshire councillor in 2014, Mr Western put forward a motion calling for a sustainable energy plan in the county.

It included schemes to assist those in fuel poverty.

Mr Western said: "Seven years later, I look back at this motion that passed unanimously yet nothing happened and wonder why it wasn’t followed through and indeed applied all over the country. We find ourselves amid a fresh energy crisis, as energy companies demand Government support and an end to the price cap to keep them viable.

"The price of gas, petrol and other fossil fuels has risen steadily for years – and we need a sustainable solution.

"It must be one that does not result in a 13 per cent rise in the price of energy."

The latest figures show that out of the 8,173 households in the Warwick district - 13 per cent - are in fuel poverty.

That figures rises to 14 per cent for the whole of Warwickshire.

Mr Western added: "National Grid warned about the effects Brexit would have on our energy supply – especially when we are so dependent on Russian and European Liquified Natural Gas.

"We also lost nearly 70 per cent of the UK’s energy storage as Centrica closed its reserves to save money.

"This should have been blocked.

"Now the UK has among the highest costs of energy in Europe."

Peter Matejic, deputy director of evidence and impact at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Rising energy prices are yet another indication that going ahead with the planned £20 per week cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits would be a mistake. This increase was needed because levels of social security support were no longer adequate to protect families and going back to those levels now, when the cost of living is increasing, will be devastating to around 5.5 million families.”

“This historic cut will have the most severe impact in areas already experiencing high levels of fuel poverty, namely Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands, but wherever they live, millions of families across the country will immediately face unnecessary hardship and be forced to make impossible decisions between feeding their families, heating their homes, or paying the bills.”

“If the Prime Minister wants to truly level up and improve living standards in the face of the rising cost of living, he must reverse this damaging cut or risk his premiership being defined by plunging people into poverty.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are making significant progress in tackling fuel poverty, with the Energy Company Obligation installing over 3.3 million measures in 2.3 million homes to date, replacing 750,000 boilers. Given its success, we have extended the scheme to 2026 and boosted its funding to £1 billion. But we want to go further and faster, ensuring nobody goes cold in their own home. That is why we are investing £1.3 billion into making homes more energy efficient, cheaper to heat and helping low-income families significantly reduce their energy bills.

“The uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary, to help claimants through the economic shock of the toughest stages of the pandemic. It’s right that the Government should focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.”