As we continue to feel the effects of Putin’s war in Ukraine and the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is right that the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget last Wednesday had a focus on supporting people throughout the nation with the cost of living.
This continued support will total £94 billion in taxpayer backing: £3,300 per household on average through 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Key to this has been confirmation that the Energy Price Guarantee will remain at £2,500 for another three months. This will save the typical family £160 on their energy bill, with the extension meaning a typical household will have saved some £1,500 on energy bills since 2022.
I welcome action being taken to help ensure fairness for all energy bill payers: the premium currently paid by over 4 million households using prepayment meters will end. This will be achieved through adjusting the Energy Price Guarantee from 1st July, and will save customers £45 a year on energy bills.
The cost of childcare is a real issue and around 3,400 families in Crawley are set to benefit from the biggest overhaul of childcare provision for years.
Provision of 30 free hours of childcare a week will be extended to all working parents of children aged 9 months until they start school: helping more parents take on the work that is right for them.
Working parents of 2-year-olds can access 15 hours per week from April 2024. From September 2024, all working parents of children aged 9 months to 3 years can access 15 hours per week. From September 2025, all working parents of children aged 9 months to 3 years will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week.
The new Universal Support programme will offer help for disabled people and the long-term sick who want to work. It will match people wanting to work with existing job vacancies.
Having called for further action on fuel duty it is good news for Crawley motorists that the 5 pence cut in fuel duty will be extended for twelve months, and HM Treasury will not proceed with the planned inflation increase. This £5 billion initiative will save the average driver around £100 over the next year and marks the 13th consecutive year which fuel duty has been frozen.
The announcements made build on support confirmed at the Autumn Statement last year. This includes up to £1,350 of support for households in 2023-24: with £900 for households on means-tested benefits; £300 for pensioner households and £150 for disability benefit claimants.
The measures announced must deliver three of the Prime Minister’s five key priorities of halving inflation, growing the economy and reducing the national debt.
Henry Smith MP