Liberal Democrats want Kirklees Council to declare a ‘cost-of-living emergency’ and lobby the Government for an immediate cut in VAT and the restoration of the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift.

Lib Dem leader John Lawson (Cleckheaton) and colleague Andrew Marchington (Golcar) have submitted a motion to the full meeting of Kirklees Council on Wednesday July 13.

They want the motion to be debated at the Huddersfield Town Hall meeting and will hope to win the support of the ruling Labour group.

The motion also wants the reintroduction of the pensions “triple-lock” which means pensions rise by the highest of three measures – 2.5%, the rise in average earnings or inflation. The latest figures showed UK inflation was 9.1% in May.

The motion also calls on the council to host a ‘cost-of-living summit’ to which local MPs and representatives from a range of organisations including citizens’ advice, food banks, trade unions and business would attend.

This is the motion in full:

“This Council notes that:

 On 1 April 2022, Ofgem increased the energy price cap by 54%;

  • In light of the increased energy price cap, the average standard tariff energy bill will increase by £693 per year, from £1,277 to £1,971. The average pre-pay meter energy bill will increase by £708 per year (Ofgem 2022);
  • On 6 April 2022, the Government increased national insurance by 1.25 percentage points, which is projected to cost the average Kirklees family an additional £600 per year;
  • The Government has suspended the pension ‘triple lock’ for 2022/23, meaning that the state pension will increase by 3.1%, instead of the 8.3% under the triple lock formula. The decision to suspend the triple lock could cost Kirklees pensioners almost £500 a year (TUC 2022).
  • The decision taken in June 2022 to impose a ‘windfall tax’ on the super-profits of oil and gas companies and to redistribute this as a one-off payment of £400 to households later this year.

Huddersfield Town Hall

Council notes that the windfall tax was first proposed by Sir Ed Davey MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, in May 2022.

Though this windfall tax is welcome, Council believes it does not go nearly far enough and the Government should be doing much more to support local people through the cost-of-living crisis.

This Council believes that: The cost-of-living crisis, which is being caused predominantly by high inflation outstripping wage and benefit increases and exacerbated by recent tax increases, affects all of us, but will hit poorer households harder.

It will also have a significant impact on community and charitable organisations, and may impact on their vital services, and it will impact on businesses. Unfortunately, the crisis will also have an impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

This Council, therefore, declares a ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ and calls on the Government to:

  • Immediately reduce the standard rate of VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year, saving the average Kirklees household £600 this year;
  • Immediately reintroduce the pensions triple lock to support Kirklees pensioners;
  • Immediately restore the Universal Credit supplement of £20, which was cancelled by the Government in September 2021.

The Council instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to express the Council’s demands for VAT to be cut to 17.5%, for the reintroduction of the pensions triple lock and for the £20 Universal Credit supplement to be restored.

Finally, Council calls for a cost-of-living emergency summit, attended by a range of stakeholders, including Citizens Advice, food banks, local trade unions and chambers of commerce. Local MPs will also be invited to attend this hybrid meeting.”

Clr Lawson told Huddersfield Hub that the Liberal Democrats wanted action to help the most vulnerable.

“It’s vital to recognise that the Government needs to act now on several fronts to mitigate the effects of the current crisis on the most vulnerable,” he said.

“This is on our doorstep. Our own borough’s foodbanks are struggling to keep up with demand and people are having to make hard choices when it comes to bills and fuel costs.

“There is a sense of time being wasted as the Government misses opportunities to help. The £150 energy rebate is yet to be paid to over 40,000 households here and council resources are being diverted to deliver it. Liberal Democrats in Kirklees want action.”

Speaking at last week’s Cabinet meeting, Labour leader Clr Shabir Pandor said people urgently needed help from the Government and there was only so much local authorities could do.

He said the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift had impacted those already struggling to make ends meet.

He also called for long-term solutions to fuel poverty such as investing to make homes warm and energy-efficient rather than a “sticking plaster” solution of Government handouts to simply pay rising gas and electricity bills.

Clr Pandor told the Cabinet meeting: “I will do everything I can to push the Government through the Local Government Association, with other local authorities, irrespective of what party they are, because we are all facing the same problem. There’s got to be a bigger solution.”