Energy Bills Remain High Despite Cap Cut: Usdaw Criticizes Tories’ Cost of Living Crisis

Despite a recent reduction in the energy price cap, energy bills in the UK remain significantly high, exacerbating the cost of living crisis that has plagued the nation for the past three years. The retail trade union Usdaw has voiced strong criticism of the Conservative government’s handling of the situation, highlighting the devastating impact on low-paid workers. Usdaw is now looking towards a Labour government to provide long-term solutions to this ongoing crisis.

Persistent High Energy Costs

The recent cap cut on energy prices has done little to alleviate the financial burden on households. Although the cap on unit prices of household energy has dipped by 7%, it remains over 36% higher than at the last general election. This means that the typical household, on a dual-fuel direct debit, will still pay around £1,568 annually for energy. Many households could end up paying even more, depending on their usage.

Usdaw conducted a survey of over 6,000 members, primarily key workers, and found that nearly 70% have struggled to pay their energy bills in the past year. Alarmingly, 30% of respondents reported struggling to pay their bills every single month. This persistent financial strain has forced many to cut down on other essentials, such as food and heating, to manage their energy costs.

high energy bills cost of living crisis UK

The high energy costs are a direct result of inflation, which has devalued incomes. Since the last election, RPI inflation has risen by 31%, while average incomes have increased by less than 25%. This disparity has left many households worse off, struggling to make ends meet despite the cap cut.

Usdaw’s Critique of Government Policies

Usdaw has been vocal in its criticism of the Conservative government’s handling of the cost of living crisis. Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary, has emphasized that while household energy costs are slowly coming down, they are still significantly higher than they were at the last election. Most people have not seen an equivalent pay rise during this period, further compounding the financial difficulties faced by low-paid workers.

The union has pointed out that short-term government support measures have been insufficient and have now been discontinued. These temporary solutions have failed to address the root causes of the crisis, leaving many households vulnerable to ongoing financial pressures. Usdaw argues that the government has relied on “sticking plasters” rather than implementing lasting solutions to support low-paid workers.

Usdaw’s survey also revealed that around a third of respondents no longer use their household heating due to high energy costs. Additionally, over four-in-ten have had to cut down on other essentials, such as food, to manage their energy bills. This situation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and sustainable policies to address the cost of living crisis.

Looking Towards a Labour Government

In stark contrast to the Conservative government’s approach, Usdaw is advocating for a Labour government that promises to tackle the cost of living crisis head-on. Labour’s plan includes the establishment of a new publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy, which aims to invest in homegrown clean energy. This initiative is expected to boost energy independence and reduce bills in the long term.

Labour also plans to deliver a new deal for working people, which Usdaw has long campaigned for. This deal will provide much-needed employment rights to end poverty pay and insecure work. By addressing these fundamental issues, Labour aims to create a more equitable and sustainable economic environment for all workers.

Usdaw believes that a Labour government is essential to delivering the change that workers desperately need. The union is urging its members and all workers to vote for Labour in the upcoming election to ensure that these critical issues are addressed. With a focus on long-term solutions and worker rights, Labour’s policies offer a promising path forward in resolving the cost of living crisis.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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