Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to provide an emergency budget to help those effected by the cost of living crisis

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the government to table an emergency budget to help those effected by the cost of living crisis and fuel price hike.

Starmer said he wanted to persuade the government to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies in the North Sea.

 “It’s the single biggest issue,” he told BBC. “Millions of people are struggling to pay their bills. The government’s response has been woeful, making a bad situation worse, by increasing national insurance contributions weeks after a price cap on gas and electricity rose by 54%.

Consumers in the U.K. are struggling with a surge in energy bills, higher taxes and the strongest inflation in three decades. Data published Friday showed U.K. consumer confidence plunged to the lowest since the 2008 recession.

The Liberal Democrats have been calling for a tax cut to ease a “cost of living emergency” as they start campaigning for local elections on May 5.

The rising cost of living – driven by global economic turmoil and the war in Ukraine – has been a key issue ahead of the elections, which will test support for political parties across the UK.

The party says its plans would give a boost to struggling high street businesses by encouraging spending, and help keep costs under control by reducing prices in the shops.

“There’s a cost of living emergency and that’s why Liberal Democrats are calling for this emergency tax cut,” Mr Davey told the BBC. “It is a large one, but it’s right for the times.”

The Lib Dem local elections offer includes proposing a 16% sewage tax on water companies’ annual profits.

The government has faced a public backlash over the amount of sewage discharge into rivers and the sea. Water firms are under pressure to reduce sewage spillages after 1,000 a day were recorded in 2021.

The Lib Dems also want to establish a national community ambulance fund to allow trusts to reopen ambulance stations and cancel planned closures.

Lib Dem analysis of Office for Budget Responsibility figures shows that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will receive a VAT windfall of £38.6bn over the next four years. That calculation takes into account rising costs, which the party says will see a typical family will pay an estimated £430 more in VAT next year.

Disabled Workers

Commenting on figures published by the ONS which show that disabled workers earn on average £1.93 per hour less than non-disabled employees (a gap of over £3,500 per year based on a 35-hour week) TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “Disabled workers were among the hardest hit during the pandemic 

 “And now millions of disabled workers face a living standards emergency – with lower pay than non-disabled workers, but higher energy and transport costs.  With bills and prices sky-rocketing, the government must act now to help disabled workers and all struggling families.  That means coming back to parliament with an emergency budget to boost pay and  universal credit, and cut energy bills.

 “Disabled workers deserve better. It’s time for big employers to be forced to publish their disability pay gaps, to help shine a light on poor workplace practices that fuel inequality at work.  Otherwise, millions of disabled workers will continue to face lower pay and in-work poverty.”

The ONS figures also show that the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled employees has widened, now standing at 13.8%, up from 11.7% in 2014. 

TUC polling published last November revealed that two in five (40%) disabled workers have been pushed into financial hardship over the last year during the pandemic.

The TUC is calling on the government to deliver:  An emergency budget to boost pay, pensions and universal credit, and cut energy bills through a windfall tax on energy company profits; Mandatory disability pay gap reporting for all employers with more than 50 employees. This should be accompanied by a duty on bosses to produce targeted action plans identifying the steps they will take to address any gaps identified.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should get specific funding to enforce disabled workers’ rights to reasonable adjustments and should update their statutory code of practice to include more examples of reasonable adjustments, to help disabled workers get the adjustments they need quickly and effectively. This will help lawyers, advisers, union reps and human resources departments apply the law properly. 

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