At the moment, working people are facing a brutal cost-of-living squeeze. Energy prices are soaring, inflation is rising, and recent research found that UK households have the smallest amount of disposable income in almost eight years.

This is really concerning. We already know that before the pandemic, Greater Manchester was well below the National Average in terms of disposable income, and the failure to address the cost-of-living crisis will only be making this problem much worse for families across the region. With energy prices set to rise again in April, it seems like a never-ending slog for many millions of families across the country.

So how did this crisis happen, and what should we do about it? There’s no doubt that Covid, plus global gas problems have contributed to where we are now. But there’s also something more at play. For the last 12 years, the Conservatives have failed to sufficiently invest in jobs, failed to outline a plan to boost skills, and failed to tackle industrial labour shortages. What’s worse, after the economic shock of Covid they actually decided to increase taxes for working people, with National Insurance and Council tax rising in the next few months.

They are now failing to act on soaring energy bills and – despite repeated calls – to slash VAT on energy bills.

This winter will be exceptionally hard for people, and the Government should be stepping in and helping, instead of sticking its head in the sand and forcing unfair tax rises on working people.

That’s why I’ve backed Labour’s recent plan to provide proper, targeted support to those who need it most. With a on-off windfall tax on big Oil and Gas producers, we would be able to bring in fully-funded measures immediately to reduce the expected price rise in April – and in doing so save most households around £200. We’d then set about reducing our reliance on imported gas, boosting home-grown renewables, and regulating our energy market so that nothing like this is allowed to happen again.

Here in Stockport, we’ve already started developing cutting-edge renewable energy solutions.

Cllr Sheila Bailey, Cabinet Member for  Sustainable Stockport at Stockport Council, is working with residents to build a greener future, with the goal of becoming a carbon neutral borough by 2038. These steps are not only good for the environment, but also for the consumer too.

The people of this country deserve to be supported, and not left in the lurch after such a tough couple of years. It’s decision time for the Government. Either step up, or step out of the way and let someone with a proper plan sort out your mess.

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