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OPINION: The "cost of living crisis" needs real political leadership

OPINION: The

Wednesday 07 September 2022

OPINION: The "cost of living crisis" needs real political leadership

Wednesday 07 September 2022


As the States get back to business after the traditional summer recess, I'm keen to hear how they're going to tackle the rising cost of living for those who are really struggling.

The rising price of everything is routinely described as a 'crisis' now, but who determines where the crisis point is?

The cynic in me fears we only keep hearing about the "cost of living crisis" because middle and higher earners are now feeling the pinch.

This has resulted in some pretty bonkers budgeting tips. Step forward former Prime Minister Boris Johnson who shared his tip for buying a new £20 kettle to save £10 a year on electricity bills. We know he'll never have had to worry about finding that £20 in the first place but it was a tone deaf platitude to struggling bill payers regardless. 

Now Liz Truss is PM, she's promised to cap utility charges in the UK. The track record of the energy cap suggests it might not be an easy promise for her to keep. 

That cap doesn't help us here in our 'low tax jurisdiction' anyway. With Guernsey Electricity given permission to put tariffs up, and a recent investigation by BBC Guernsey finding the best value supermarket in the island is Waitrose, it might be time for us to look at layering up in extra jumpers this winter, and stock up on Essentials such as avocados, olives and halloumi instead?

shutterstock petrol pump

Pictured: If petrol getting close to £2 a litre was that pinch point for you then maybe you're luckier than many others.

Closer to home, and perhaps a model our deputies could look to emulate, came from Jersey this week.

Deputy Sam Mezec, leader of the Reform Jersey Party, and with a track record of trying to level up the standard of living in our sister island, has made renewed efforts to protect renters.

He has made a formal move to bring in a rent freeze. I've not seen any evidence of anything similar in Guernsey yet?

We have heard a few whispers from our States about different methods to ease the pressure on those who are really at their crisis point, but with our elected officials gathering for their September meeting today I'd like to see a bit more urgency about them.

It is at times of crisis that we look to the States for leadership after all.

Deputy_Peter_Roffey_and_Deputy_Gavin_St_Pier.jpg

Pictured: Deputies Peter Roffey and Gavin St Pier have both recently led attempts to help those struggling the most with the cost of living. 

Those families considered to be struggling the most will hopefully get a boost within the coming weeks.

ESS, led by Deputy Peter Roffey wants to bring in emergency uplifts to benefits and rent subsidies. These would be coming into effect in January anyway, but the ESS President will ask for the uplifts to take effect in October.

Let's be positive and predict all, but at least most, of our deputies will vote in favour of that move.

For families not in receipt of benefits, or rent subsidies, there are few offers of assistance though which worries me, as it could see some households drop into poverty. 

Waste_collections_june.jpg

Pictured: The seemingly ever-increasing waste costs are worrying some bill-payers too.  

One kick in the teeth for hard pushed bill-payers could come through the waste strategy.

Having been told for years that we need to recycle more, we now might have to pay for the 'free' recycling bags we've been given for the past few years. Nothing is ever free though, so we've already paid for those blue and clear bags, along with our black bags, the black bag stickers and our parish rates and the waste standing charge. I've lost track of what my own waste output cost me last year, but at one black bag a month, or fewer, I've tried my hardest to keep the charges down.

The most recent rise in black bag sticker prices went through earlier this year, despite Deputy Gavin St Pier's attempts to stop it. He's back with another attempt though - this time he wants to cap any future rises.

We've all seen that the UK's energy price cap is a movable fixture but perhaps we'll have more luck in this area when there might only be pennies at stake, rather than hundreds, or thousands of pounds. 

 

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