January can be a difficult time for lots of families.

Whether it’s catching up with the cost of Christmas or trying to manage rising heating bills, money can be a real worry in these early months.

Sadly, this year, it is going to be even more difficult.

The BBC have reported that the average UK family is going to be £1,700 worse off due to the spiralling cost of living.

A survey by Which? has also found that over three quarters of adults are concerned about rising food prices.

In Barnsley, many of our neighbours were already struggling.

We are in the top 20% of areas nationally for adult food poverty – and 5,000 children in Barnsley East also growing up in poverty, with the majority of their families in work.

Just before Christmas I visited the local foodbank in Wombwell to make a donation. They have seen a tripling of demand in recent years.

These statistics are shameful.

After cutting Universal Credit last year and overseeing rising inflation, the Government will be raising National Insurance in April and lifting the energy price cap

There are steps that Government could take to make people’s lives easier. But instead they are making them harder.

Labour would do things differently.

That is why we have called on the Government to cut VAT on energy bills to zero. This can be funded by the £3.1bn windfall that the Government is unexpectedly about to rake in from taxes on higher prices.

This would keep more money in people’s pockets and help with the cost of living this winter. But so far, the Government is rejecting our calls.

We would immediately stop the cuts to Universal Credit and replace it with a fairer social security system that would allow people to keep more of what they earn.

And we would also drive up pay through new Fair Pay Agreements. These will be made by bringing together workers and employers in each sector to create better standards that will apply to every worker.

Under the last Labour Government, absolute child poverty fell by 2.1 million. Absolute pensioner poverty fell by over 3 million. People were better off, not worse off

We can do this again, but we need a Government that’s on our side.

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