The Labour MP for Birkenhead has today issued a “personal appeal” to Tory leadership rivals Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, urging greater action to tackle rising energy costs and soaring inflation.
Mick Whitley MP is calling for an “urgent and wide-ranging” package of reforms to tackle the cost of living crisis. This includes scrapping the energy price rise and VAT on energy bills, a system of price controls on rent and essential foodstuffs, increasing the minimum wage and uprating benefits in line with inflation, and an excess profits tax to tackle corporate profiteering and fund support for the least well-off.
The intervention comes as market experts predict that the energy price cap will rise higher than expected in October up to at least £3,582 a year.
Researchers suggest that this could plunge almost half the population into fuel poverty. The Bank of England is also warning that inflation is set to 13% this year and remain “elevated” for much of 2023.
Warning that a “moral and economic catastrophe” is unfolding in deprived areas like the town of Birkenhead, the Member of Parliament for Birkenhead said that growing numbers of young people in his constituency were going to school hungry and increasing numbers of in-work families were turning to charity to put food on the table.
The Conservative leadership contest has so far been dominated by the issue of tax cuts, which experts are warning will benefit the wealthiest in society while providing little relief to those who are struggling to get by.
Mick Whitley called for both candidates to show the “political courage to break free of party dogma” and act in the best interests of the country.
The Birkenhead MP blamed the scale of the cost of living crisis on the “shameful inaction” of current Government – in which both candidates have served in senior roles – which he accused of refusing to listen to “those who are being hit hardest of all”.
He said that he had taken the step of writing to the candidates personally to issue the “heartfelt appeal,” because the government has refused to recall Parliament to address the cost of living crisis.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also called for an emergency budget to tackle the scale of the crisis, saying that he had witnessed scenes of destitution reminiscent of the Great Depression in the 1930s.