Many of us, myself included, will have been shocked this week as scenes emerged from petrol stations across the UK.
With reports of shortages causing mammoth queues, and petrol costing over 135p a litre for those lucky enough to reach the front, this disruption was just the latest in the Governments poor handling of our economy, leaving working families subject to a sudden drop in living standards.
This comes at the same time as, across Barnsley, the Government have chosen to take £20 a week from over 20,000 people on Universal Credit – many of them in work.
As much as the Government would like to forget it, this £20 is not just a figure. For many, it is the difference between being able to afford basic necessities – such as tea for the kids after school or heating the house through winter – and going hungry or cold.
Amidst this cut, the Government is also hitting working families with a rise in National Insurance. Instead of placing the burden of higher taxes on those with the broadest shoulders, the Government is punching down, leaving low earners and already-exposed families to foot the bill.
Under these circumstances, our hard-working carers, shop-workers, and nurses face the rise in tax, whilst big business owners and private landlords with multiple properties don’t pay a penny more.
Just as the most vulnerable face these reductions in income, at the same time, prices in our shops are increasing due to supply chain issues.
Due to a shortage of 90,000 HGV drivers, our supermarket shelves have been left empty and expensive, whilst businesses are without vital supplies. Even for those willing drivers hoping to help ease the shortage, there is a huge backlog in the process of obtaining a licence, prolonging the crisis further.
Meanwhile, energy bills are set to soar, despite 8,158 households in my constituency of Barnsley East already living in fuel poverty, unable to keep their homes properly heated.
This crisis of our standard of living comes directly from a lack of planning and poor policy making. The Government should immediately rethink the universal credit cut, reverse the National Insurance increase, consider their mistakes on gas storage that are causing prices to rise, find a solution to the shortage of HGV drivers by introducing intense training programmes and clear the DVLA backlog.
It is time to put an end to this chaos and prioritise those who need it most.