Tory Cost of Living Crisis
It is with a real sense of anger that I faced Dominic Raab across the Chamber of the House of Commons last week during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Raab’s failure over the UK’s exit from Afghanistan shamed even this appalling government. The decision to abandon thousands of Afghans who had supported the UK left them facing persecution, or worse, from the Taliban. Many constituents contacted me to express outrage, and I will continue to do what I can to help those left behind.
But the issue that dominated our exchange was not Afghanistan. It was the cost-of-living tsunami facing ordinary families in East Renfrewshire and across the UK thanks to the actions of this UK Government. Countries across the globe face challenges. Governments usually try to help people through difficult times, not to make matters worse. Yet, on a wide range of issues, this toxic Tory government is making life harder for ordinary families.
Families face higher costs in energy and other household bills, thanks in no small part to the Tory Brexit shambles. Yet, from 6 October, over 4,000 people in East Renfrewshire will lose £20 per week from their household’s income because the government is cutting Universal Credit. This is the biggest ever overnight cut in UK benefits. Every Scottish MP opposed it, except the craven Scottish Tories. On top of this, the UK Government decided to fund their response to a social care crisis in England by increasing National Insurance, which will hit low paid workers hard right across the UK. So much for the ‘union dividend’.
To make matters worse, the Chancellor is closing the furlough scheme, which has helped businesses and workers through the pandemic. The scheme still supports thousands of workers in East Renfrewshire in sectors particularly affected by the pandemic, like travel and tourism. There are over 600 workers in the aviation sector alone in East Renfrewshire, many of them deeply concerned for their jobs when furlough ends.
There is a pattern to this Tory government’s actions. They say they are delivering fairness while routinely disregarding the interests of ordinary families and acting to protect the interests of their friends and financial backers. By contrast, thank goodness for the Scottish Government, who are doing what they can to help families through, with an estimated £130 million going to low-income families this year through initiatives such as the Scottish Child Payment. Organisations like East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau, which I congratulate on reaching their 50th Anniversary, do what they can to help people pick up the pieces. But, no one can mitigate all the bad choices that flow from this UK Government, which is why it is so vital that Scotland takes control of its own destiny as soon as possible.