The Labor leader suggested the Tories should prefer an increase in benefits as people ‘toss and turn’ at night wondering how to afford energy bills
Video not available
Labor would “consider” raising benefits in line with inflation, Keir Starmer said today.
The Labor leader asked ministers to reconsider the current 3.1% rise – a cut in real terms as inflation hit 6.2% in February and is set to peak near 9% later this year.
As the cost-of-living crisis deepened, the Labor leader said people were “tossing and turning in their beds at how they were going to pay for it”.
He said people “don’t see anything from the government” who “don’t realize” how much people are struggling, adding he’d heard of people keeping the heating at 12C as they don’t care can do more.
Asked whether benefits should rise in line with inflation, the Labor leader was reluctant to offer a guarantee should he be in power.
But he told Sky News the Tory government should now increase benefits in line with inflation.
He said: “I think we need to look at this for that very reason, because otherwise people will fall behind.
“That’s what we wanted to see from the government last week, we didn’t see that from the government last week.
“Honestly, if the government put a package on the table that Parliament could agree to, we could go ahead with it, but the government just doesn’t understand the scale of the problem for millions and millions of people.”
Benefits, including Universal Credit, are set to rise 3.1% on April 11. The increase was decided on the basis of inflation last September, which is already outdated.
It is understood that Labor would like the Government to bring forward some of April’s rise next year to now, on top of that 3.1% rise.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said last month: “The chancellor should consider ways to increase benefits in a fair way. They’re supposed to go up with inflation, and they’re not doing that right now.”
It comes after Tory Rishi Sunak dismissed calls to increase pensions through inflation in his spring statement.
The Chancellor announced he would double the Household Support Fund for councils to help Brits in need, from £500million to £1billion.
UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag)
But the fine print of the budget documents showed the true value of benefits will fall by £12bn over the next year due to rising inflation.
High expected inflation in September will trigger a record spike, but not until April 2023. The Office for Fiscal Responsibility warned that it will take “up to 18 months for benefits to fully catch up with higher inflation”.
Universal Credit is up by just £10.07 a month, six months after a £20-a-week cut.
And the National Residential Landlords Association today blasted the “absurd” decision to freeze the local housing benefit, which decides how much Universal Credit can be paid to cover a person’s rent.
Chief Executive Ben Beadle said: “It is simply absurd that the housing benefit support does not reflect the reality of current rents. The freeze only worsens the already serious cost of living crisis.
“The Chancellor must listen and respond to the concerns of tenants and landlords and unblock the housing benefit urgently.”
Keir Starmer has blasted the government’s “pathetic” response as national insurance, utility bills, council taxes and inflation soar – with bills expected to rise again on October 1.
Energy company websites crashed yesterday as people filed meter readings ahead of today’s £693 surge in annual bills.
Charities said the surge will double the number of “fuel stressed” families struggling to pay gas bills to 5 million.
The TUC called for an emergency budget, with General Secretary Frances O’Grady saying: “This is a livelihood emergency. Last week’s spring statement was woefully inadequate.”
And parents told Save the Children they would give their children shared baths and cold dinners, or even send them to bed hungry.
Bethany Fern, a 26-year-old single mother of a seven and three-year-old from Southport, told the charity: “I’m going to try to cut our spending on food and drink even more and try to freeze more.
“We will be eating far more cold meals, triple-checking that sockets are turned off when not in use and limiting television even more than we already do.
“We’ve turned the heat off many times, and my kids rely on extra layers, duvets, and weighted blankets.
“They must have shared baths or non-fresh baths among themselves to protect the boiler from heating water.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/keir-starmer-would-look-at-26613011 Keir Starmer would 'consider' raising benefits with inflation as bills hit the crisis