As the dust settles upon last week’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, there is little joy to be found for already hard-pressed families here in Llanelli.
Behind all the usual blather and Jeremy Hunt’s party-political game playing, last week confirmed not only that this will be the biggest tax raising parliament ever but also that the vast majority of people locally will see the biggest hit to their living standards on record. A double whammy if ever there was one.
Under this government, the tax burden is set to increase by £4,300 per household compared to when they were first elected. Household incomes will still be 3.5% lower next year than pre-pandemic and wages are set to fall this year by 0.7% and are almost flat next year. Inflation remains stubbornly high, way above its target and since October 2021, food prices have risen by 30%, gas prices have risen by 60% and electricity prices have risen by 40%. All continue to take their toll on people’s hard-earned incomes and savings.
Add to that sluggish economic growth, more pain in store for mortgage payers and renters and a complete lack of any economic and industrial strategy – as we have seen all too closely with the UK Government’s mishandling of Tata Steel, Port Talbot and its possible knock on effects for local jobs in Trostre – and we begin to see that those currently in charge are out of touch and out of ideas.
Every day, people approach my office for help when they are facing difficulties making ends meet, paying essential household bills and trying to find somewhere to live that is affordable and reliable. Last week’s Autumn Statement will do little to help them and, in many cases, will make life even harder.