Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cost of Living

There was some great news for hard pressed bill-payers last week when South-West Water announced a price freeze for all households and businesses until April 2015. It will no doubt mean a sigh of relief for all those households in our area concerned about rising utility bills who now have at least some certainty in what to budget for water costs. As winter draws in and energy bills increase, I think this news should be welcomed and especially because it comes with a commitment from the water company to look at keeping prices below inflation all the way through to 2020.

Of course bills are still disproportionately high for households in Cornwall and this historic injustice comes from that fact South West Water looks after water quality over a vast coastline but deals with a relatively small population. That said the £50 rebate that was introduced in April this year has been a very welcome start and for the average Cornish household their bill actually fell this year by 7.3%. The price freeze announced last week is another step in the right direction.

Whilst water is important, we also need to look at other ways to cut the cost of living which everyone agrees is a top priority and when I am out knocking on doors in the constituency the subject is never far away. The scrapping of the fuel duty escalator by the government was vitally important for a county like Cornwall because many people who work cannot rely on public transport and have no option but to use their car and our businesses have to transport their goods hundreds of miles to market which is a major cost. Just filling up can be a worrying cost for families and I have always argued for fuel costs to be as low as possible.

When it comes to the cost of energy the government have also very recently announced a range of measures that will lead to a £50 cut in the average household bill which are coming into effect soon. The recent hikes in energy bills have caused a real shock and this cut is absolutely critical to help people deal with this extra burden. It is difficult because energy prices here are largely controlled by wholesale energy prices around the world but suppliers need to be transparent at how they can keep costs down and the government can work with them on this. Progress has been made but it is clear that for now and in the future new approaches need to be looked at.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032