There is no getting away from the fact that prices, whether at the petrol pump or on the supermarket shelves, are rising. A spike in fuel costs, alongside rising inflation, is hitting us all in the pocket and I know people in Fylde are worried about the growing cost of food and household bills.
The Chancellor last week unveiled a package of measures designed to take the sting off these increases. I know many people believe he has not gone far enough and realise there are many, particularly the most vulnerable in our society, facing difficult choices in the weeks and months to come. The 5p fuel duty cut has, at least, halted what seemed like a relentless rise. It is vital this is being passed on by retailers who may soon also be benefiting from a fall in wholesale prices. The increase in the threshold at which National Insurance is paid should also come as a relief to working families and, to a degree, cancels out the planned rise due next month when the Health and Social Care Levy kicks in. There were also tax incentives to make homes more energy efficient and self-sustaining, with VAT cut to zero on new technologies.
But, even with a £150 Council Tax rebate for many payable next month, I realise that energy costs remain a significant challenge for households and businesses. This is a point MPs have ensured is not lost on the Chancellor. I realise, however, that every penny spent has to be raised through taxes and that difficult choices have to be made.
Events in Ukraine have, of course, contributed to the rising costs we have seen. Like so many people in Fylde I continue to be appalled by what I see on the news bulletins every day. I am also heartened by the astonishing response of our local communities. I know Ross Robinson, well known to many of you from his work at the Queen’s Hotel, Lytham House, Ship at Freckleton and Eagle at Weeton, is currently on his way to Poland with two lorry loads of aid from Fylde. Another amazing effort from all involved.
Uncertainty over oil and gas supplies from Russia have driven up wholesale prices, demonstrating why we need to wean ourselves off a dependence on this most undependable energy source. Here in Fylde the Government’s growing appetite for nuclear is most welcome and the strategic importance of Springfields to the UK cannot be understated. The much anticipated energy security policy should present us with a roadmap for the transition to reliable, sustainable power in the future.
That greener, cleaner, reliable electricity will come in handy when a new fleet of 115 all electric buses arrives on the Fylde Coast. I am pleased to hear Blackpool Transport is to take delivery of these new vehicles following a successful bid to the Government. The company has received, in terms of buses, the single largest investment under the £200m scheme. Not only will this mean we will have electric buses serving many of Fylde’s busiest routes, but the company’s current low emissions fleet can be sold to other operators, taking older more polluting vehicles off the road. It is a big win for the Fylde Coast and I cannot wait to get onboard an electric bus here in Fylde.