Chief executive of The Women’s Organisation in Liverpool, Maggie O’Carroll, reacts to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement


“I am extremely disappointed that the Chancellor’s spring statement will do little to address the worst cost of living crisis and inflationary pressure on businesses predicted since the 1980s.


“I had really expected that the Chancellor would make some substantial changes to reflect the enormous challenges faced by people and businesses in the UK.


“Most obviously to me, the energy price cap needed to be maintained to have a more universal impact and protect working and vulnerable families from the jaw dropping 54% rise in their bills.


“In real terms, from next month thousands of people across the country will face in excess of £1,400 in additional outgoings per year on gas and electricity, meanwhile energy company profits soar – so the proposed £200 repayable energy discount is, quite frankly, lamentable.


“Compare this to France where the Government has limited rises to 12.5%. This is now a cost crisis which will plunge 10 million into fuel poverty.


“The 5p cut in fuel duty makes a very small difference when fuel has risen by more than 40p per litre. Also, most low pay or benefit recipients do not own a car. So, they do not in any way benefit from the fuel duty cut.


“And all of this comes while millions of people – predominantly women and mothers – are still reeling from the withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift in autumn.


“This statement should have been shaped specifically to protect the most vulnerable, providing support where it is most needed first. But it simply doesn’t feel like that is the case.


“Foodbanks are busier than ever, but the reality is that it is not the cost of food crippling families. It is the rising cost of energy causing a drain on people’s earnings.


“Scrapping the VAT on green home measures and small deductions in fuel duties hardly seem like realistic solutions for the thousands of households who are set to suffer the most and are not in the market for solar panels or other green measures.


“And I’m almost despairing at the proposition of local authority hardship funds. Our councils here in Liverpool city region do fantastic work reaching out to the most vulnerable, but they badly need more resources and this extra £500m across the whole country is nowhere near enough.


“Some good news is the rise in the National Insurance threshold – but again this serves to protect a broad range of people across a scale and spectrum of earnings. Couldn’t we have done more to protect our lowest earners first?


“However, benefits and pensions are rising only by 3.1%, not the 7%+ which will be the inflation rate over the coming months, making more than 9m of the over 65s £500 poorer – and this is on top of the £1,000 from Universal Credit recipients late last year uplift.


“Women who head up some of the UK’s poorest households will have £1,800 less income than they did last year with costs for essentials sky rocketing.


“In essence, Mr Sunak’s Spring Statement leaves massive, gaping gaps – particularly when it comes to the sustained suffering of our country’s most vulnerable.”