Birkenhead residents today spoke at a community forum hosted by local MP Mick Whitley about the scale of the crisis facing the town this Christmas because of the huge rise in energy costs.
The Member of Parliament for Birkenhead brought local residents, charities, and community groups together to discuss the effect that the energy price crisis is having on the town – and the support that’s needed to help local communities get through the winter.
The event was promoted as a “unique opportunity” for local people to directly shape the activities of their MP ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement on 17 November.
Mick Whitley said that he wanted the Chancellor to treat the statement as a “launchpad for a crusade against the rising tide of poverty and destitution that’s engulfing communities like Birkenhead.”
Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce whether the Government intends to uplift benefits in line with inflation as well to extend the windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas giants.
Both measures were resoundingly supported by participants at the community forum, many of whom cited reports that BP had more than doubled its profits over the past three months – even as rates of fuel poverty sky-rocketed.
Attendees also called for further measures to be brought forward, including more substantial cost-of-living support payments and comprehensive regulation of the energy sector.
Speaking to birkenhead.news, the Member of Parliament for Birkenhead said, “Ultimately, it’s the government’s responsibility to provide the answers to this crisis. But thanks to input I’ve received today, I’ll be taking Birkenhead’s priorities to Westminster on November 17th and continuing my campaign for a fairer deal for our town.”
He added, “as we confront what’s likely to be the toughest winter in recent memory, it’s also important that our community comes together, forges connections, and works in unison to confront the extraordinary challenges that lie ahead.”
More than a dozen local organisations were represented at the event – underscoring the range of support that’s available to local people.
The scale of this crisis was most dramatically illustrated by Jamie Anderson from Age UK who warned, “Without massive policy change, this winter is not about people making choices that enable them to thrive, it’s about people making choices that may enable them to survive or tragically at worst choices which simply still won’t be enough to enable them to survive”.