• Huw Irranca-Davies

Welsh families in low-income households hit by the 'perfect storm'

Low-income households in Bridgend and Ogmore are currently facing a perfect storm of rising prices, stalled income, and shortages in key employment sectors under this UK Conservative government. Some of the most stretched family budgets will be stretched even more. Some household budgets will struggle to cope.

This is not all the fault of “events” or the pandemic. Conservative decisions are fuelling this crisis in Bridgend, and right across the country.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, as the saying goes. Boris Johnson took the country out of the European Union. But his chosen type of Brexit has contributed to a loss of workers such as transport and haulage drivers who make sure affordable food is delivered to our local shops. Nothing was put in place to prepare for this foreseeable event. Similarly, the shortages in staff in our vital social care sector were predicted, as the UK government decided they were not a key employment group for the “shortage occupation” list of workers.

These are not the only reasons for these types of shortages of course. The pandemic is hitting all walks of life and work. But the lack of preparation by the UK government for the post-Brexit scenario is self-inflicted and unforgivable. It matters to the prices of food on our shelves and the care of our relatives and everything in between.

This is incompetence written in large. And Welsh Conservative MPs are supporting this.

They are also supporting a direct attack on our lowest income households and working families in Wales. With inflation now running at 3.2%, and energy and food prices rising, Conservative MPs have inflicted a hammer blow on low-paid working families and others in Bridgend by taking over £1000 a year out of their pockets.

There will be a £20/week cut to Universal Credit, the payment that goes to households on the lowest incomes. This will throw 290,000 children, 520,000 working-age adults and 30,000 pensioners into poverty.

There are more families and pensioners receiving Universal Credit here and in Wales than in other parts of the UK. More than a third of families here in Bridgend and Ogmore will lose out. And – by the way- it will take around £286m out of the Welsh and local economy, from money that these households would have spent in local shops.

What we have here from Boris Johnson – supported by his MPs in Wales - is a brutal combination of incompetence and callous disregard for ordinary people which is driving poverty and cutting household income for the poorest, whilst also undercutting and adding pressure to our over-stretched public services. This perfect storm is not entirely of Johnson’s making, but he is whipping it up with some gusto.