In the news today, inflation has gone up for another month, this time to just over 10%, for the first time in over forty years. This means that the cost of basic goods and services people need to live are going up by an average of 10% per year – but some basic foods have gone up by much more, and fuel prices are rocketing. The increased cost of fuel makes many other things much more expensive and as pay, benefits and pensions for most people are not going up by anything like as much, everyone is feeling worse off.
Many people have already written to me about their worries. Some of you have asked what Labour would do if we were in government now. We’ve come forward with many ideas before and during this crisis and this week the Labour Leader Keir Starmer made an announcement about how we would help people with fuel bills. The government should consider these carefully and the new Prime Minister has the choice about whether to continue with the inaction of the current Prime Minister, who is on his second holiday this summer, or to tackle the problem. Labour is showing just some of what any government could and should do now and into the future.
Keir Starmer said that the Labour Party “wouldn’t let people pay a penny more” on their winter fuel bill. This means capping the energy rise and typically saving every household £1,000. Furthermore, our Warm Homes Plan will insulate millions more homes to reduce the amount of energy we need and save more money off bills.
This means that households across Bristol West will receive £57 million from Labour’s fully costed plan.
Labour will also be investing more in sustainable, British, energy sources. This means we won’t have to rely on expensive fossil fuels. We would double our onshore and offshore wind capacity, triple our solar power, harness the UK’s marine power potential and raise the ambition stated in the Hydrogen Strategy for the UK’s hydrogen economy.
Nationalising energy companies is not the right priority now
Many people who wrote to me mentioned nationalising energy companies. I understand why many people feel that this is an appropriate response – and indeed Labour will, for example, bring back the rail operating companies into public ownership as soon as the contracts for those come up. However, to nationalise energy companies is different. We would have to be compensating shareholders – which would be money we then couldn’t spend on bringing down bills. Not compensating them would leave any government open to legal challenges they would probably lose, costing even more money. And in any case, many of the shareholders in energy companies are pension funds providing pension income to people who have worked hard all their lives and are facing struggles with their bills this winter. For all these reasons, that’s not the right priority right now.
Labour’s fully-funded plan would stop bills rising now, and create sustainable energy for the future – helping people get through the winter while providing the foundations for a stronger, more secure economy. Only Labour can give Britain the fresh start it needs.