The Welsh Government has said the upcoming Spring Statement must be used to provide meaningful action to tackle the cost of living crisis.
In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Welsh Government’s Finance Minister Rebecca Evans called on the UK government to “act now and stand with the Welsh Government to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”
The Welsh Government has said UK government decisions on unemployment support, changes to universal credit and increases in taxes on income are adding to the pressures on household budgets.
It calls for the uprating of welfare benefits – currently set at 3.1% - to be significantly increased in the context of inflation levels expected to hit almost 8% by April. The Welsh Government is also calling the reversal of the decision to remove the £20 universal credit uplift.
The case for a windfall tax on the excessive profits made by big energy companies, with money raised to be spent on supporting vulnerable households, has been described as “irrefutable” by the Finance Minister.
The Welsh Government has also put forward a number of other suggestions to help people. Proposed measures include moving the social policy costs to general taxation, introducing a low income energy tariff to better target support to lower income households, and providing further and increased support through the Warm Home Discount and other winter fuel payment schemes.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:
“We have invested more than £330 million to support people through the cost of living crisis, nearly double equivalent support in England.
“But it is the UK government that has the key levers, particularly through the tax and benefit system, to offer people more financial protection.
“The cost of living crisis is very real for people, and is set to get worse from April. No one can afford to underestimate the gravity of the challenges we face. The suggestions we have are effective, practical measures that would help people pay bills and put food on the table. Now we need the UK government to listen, act, and stand with us to provide a full crisis response to the cost of living emergency.”
The Finance Minister also calls on the Chancellor to take the necessary steps to secure the UK’s energy security, in response to the major geopolitical crisis arising from the Ukraine conflict. She calls on greater investment to incentivize renewable energy generation to meet net zero targets and support a more resilient domestic renewable energy system.