It will be a bleak mid-winter for everyone in Liverpool

Every public building, where it is practical, should have solar panels fitted. It would be good for people’s pockets and good for the environment

Last month the then Chancellor of the Exchequer made the chilling statement that anyone earning less than £45,000 would ‘feel the pinch this winter’. Well, there is one statement I can agree with a Tory on, although I would not describe it as a pinch. For many it will be a punch in the guts!

Last week we received a report on the cost-of-living crisis in Liverpool at Liverpool’s Health & Wellbeing Board. It was a dreadful document which laid out in absolute clarity how much people will suffer in coming months. Just look at these figures below:

• Everton has the lowest median household income at £16,065 and at £42,443 Church has the highest household incomes.

• At £750 increase in energy costs equals 5% of total household incomes in Everton but a 1.7% of household incomes in Church

• Those that will experience the highest absolute increase in consumption costs, on average, have a higher income however those set to experience the highest proportional increase in costs are less able to meet this additional cost, with many already in fuel poverty.

• Liverpool has a median household income of £23,476, which is £9,648 below the UK average.

So, if we accept the Tory definition of ‘pain to come’ even in the Church Ward which I represent, which is the wealthiest, more than half the residents will suffer some element of hardship.

In fact, the projections show that even if the barking mad Truss proposals for energy capping come in then 90% of the population of Liverpool will be living with fuel policy and having to choose between heating and eating. The Truss proposals will come back to bite us later in any event. Whilst energy producing companies are reaping huge dividends from the much higher prices in the world market Truss and co., are going to borrow money to pay their sky-high prices. That will need to be paid back.

Meanwhile the despised EU is doing the sensible thing and levying a windfall tax worth £120 billion on European domiciled producers. That money will be fed back into a general reduction in energy prices with a particular direction of supporting the poorest members of the community.

The UK’s position is uniquely being made worse by the way that the international markets are responding to the fiscal policies of the Tory Government by driving the value of the £ down. It is at its lowest value for 40+ years against the $ and about the lowest level since the inception of the Euro. This really matters as we but oil and gas on the international markets. The lower the value of the £ the less gas we can buy with it.

So, whilst global gas and oil prices are coming down the cost to us is rising because of the perceived and actual weakness of the Government’s approach. A Tory Government that criticises its Lib Dem and Labour opponents for financial incompetence is crippling our economy and racking up huge debts for successive governments to pay back. The cynical might say that this might be linked to the fact that almost 25% of the money that Truss received for her leadership campaign came from one source connected with the oil industry. Yes, I am one of the cynical ones!!

So, what can we do about this? Well, the biggest steps are ones that Liberal Democrats have been calling for. A windfall tax on producers, that even Johnson supported in a small way, and a return to the single market which Johnson would never support.

Locally there are two things that we could do:

  1. Look after ourselves and each other. Yes, we will have to be far more careful with the power that we use although many have been watching their consumption for years and cannot cut their power use any more.            

Use the Tory solution and put more jumpers on!!

Use public transport or walk more

Contribute to food banks and other support schemes when we can do so.

I think we can take for granted that in this great City of Liverpool we will look out for each other in so far as we can do so.

  • Generate more power ourselves which reduces cost and is environmentally sound.

At the last council meeting we proposed a motion on localised electricity generation which was knocked back by Labour. So, we are having a go again at Wednesday’s council meeting. We do this as an addendum to a motion from the Mayor which is well meaning but apart from sending a letter to the Government does little to help the situation.

This is, of course a long-term solution which is appropriate as there is a long-term crisis.

There are no simple answers to the problems that we face, and we need to recognise that blaming the problems of the war in Ukraine is just not the truth. Problems with the UK economy have been building since 2016. They relate to BREXIT and short-term nonsenses from the Tories who cannot accept the need for a long term industrial and economic strategy.

When 90% of the people of Liverpool will be living in fuel poverty surely even the Tories will agree that urgent action is needed.

If you want to read the full report you can find it here: https://councillors.liverpool.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=1817

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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