UK finance ministers met in Cardiff yesterday to discuss how to support individuals and businesses with burgeoning bills dominating discussions.
Yesterday’s meeting was the first time the Committee met in Cardiff.
The price of food, fuel, energy, clothing, travel expenses and rent continues to rise as inflation rises. And Ofgem has warned energy bills are set to rise another around £800 a year in October. This comes against a backdrop of growing concerns about the impact of the crisis on the health and well-being of individuals.
UK finance ministers discussed what more can be done to help people cope with this crisis at a joint committee looking at fiscal and economic issues affecting the UK. Today’s meeting was the first time the Committee met in Cardiff.
Ministers also considered concerns over EU replacement funding, as well as Covid recovery and the transition to net zero. The need to invest in renewable energy to ensure energy security was discussed, as well as how to ensure that people are able to meet the costs of their current and future energy needs.
Following the meeting, the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh ministers visited South Point Primary School in Rhoose, the first net zero school in Wales.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economics Kate Forbes said: “As we continue our economic recovery from the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, we must firmly focus government and industry resources audience on delivering on clear priorities, including fighting child poverty, growing the economy and meeting our climate change goals.
“According to the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC), the overall Scottish budget fell by 5.2% in real terms between 2021-22 and 2022-23, with a further forecast of a 1% reduction in real terms maintained until 2025. -26.
“While we are doing all we can with the limited financial resources and limited powers we currently have to deal with the rising cost of living, the UK government must use the powers at its disposal to help those who are struggling. most need, including low-income households. and families with children as well as businesses.
Rebecca Evans, Welsh Minister for Finance and Local Government, added: “The UK Government must use the levers at its disposal to take urgent further action to target support gaps, in particular to help low-income households. and families with children, and to boost businesses that are also feeling the effects of rising costs.
“Removing all social and environmental policy costs from household energy bills, for example, and introducing a lower price cap for low-income households, would help them cover the costs of their current and future energy needs.
“Our budget is now worth at least £600million less than when we set out our spending plans last year. We are calling on the Chancellor to increase it in line with inflation so that we can support the NHS recovery from the pandemic, invest in jobs and growth and strengthen our response to the cost of living.
Conor Murphy, Northern Ireland Finance Minister, said: “The collective message to the Treasury today was clear: more needs to be done to help households and businesses facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis. . As the Treasury announced help for citizens, it must now consider supporting businesses which are also facing rising fuel and energy costs amid a bid to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Together with the Welsh and Scottish Finance Ministers, I made the Secretary General of the Treasury understand the need for further action. I again called on the Treasury to reduce VAT on energy bills.
“I have also reiterated to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury the need to ensure that citizens in the North are not disadvantaged in paying the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme due to lack of an executive. We are committed to continued engagement between my department and the Treasury to ensure a solution is found to provide support locally.