Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, has held a summit with the local voluntary, community and faith sector in St Helens to discuss their work to alleviate the mounting cost of living crisis facing residents across the borough.
As rising bills begin to drop through letterboxes, Mr McGinn and Sally Yeoman, Chief Officer of Halton & St Helens VCA, convened a special roundtable of leaders from many of St Helens’ voluntary sector at the Beacon Building in the town centre, to hear frontline insights into how rising costs are affecting those who use and rely on their services.
In attendance were representatives from Halton & St Helens VCA, St Matthew’s Centre Pantry, St Mark’s Pantry and Uniform Bank, the Hope Centre, YMCA St Helens, Teardrops, Age UK Mid Mersey, Torus Foundation, Our Warm Welcome, Citizens Advice St Helens, Change Grow Live, and Missing in the Economy.
Households across Britain face a perfect storm of energy bills soaring by a typical 54 percent to their highest levels on record from this month, price rises in foods and essentials, rocketing inflation, cuts to Universal Credit, plus the highest tax burden in 70 years.
Residents in St Helens North are already feeling the pinch. Research conducted in March by 38 Degrees and Survation showed that, compared to last year, 87 percent of residents had experienced more expensive energy bills, 85 percent pricier groceries, and 78 percent higher fuel costs.
Mr McGinn heavily criticised the Conservative Government’s response to the crisis, arguing that Ministers’ inaction had left individuals, families and pensioners in St Helens Borough facing hard times with hard choices.
Families could be some £2,620 worse off as a result of the crisis, with the Office of Budget Responsibility – the UK’s fiscal watchdog – predicting that living standards are set to freefall at levels not seen since the 1950s.
The St Helens North MP said that a failure to rise to the challenge stood in contrast to community organisations and the local authority in St Helens, whose support – first through the pandemic, then into the current crisis – had provided a lifeline for residents in the toughest of times.
He called on Ministers to match those efforts with meaningful support and coherent policies to ease the burden on people.
St Helens North MP, Conor McGinn said:
“I was grateful to hear directly from many of our phenomenal local voluntary groups at our roundtable. Yet again, they’re stepping up to help our community in its hour of need, and I fully back them and am working closely with them on these challenges.
“From the frontline, they, our local council, city region and MPs are already seeing the scale and impact of this crisis. Clearly, the pitiful response of central Government has left more people facing hard times and hard choices both for themselves and their loved ones.
“It’s time that Ministers match our efforts locally and finally deliver the meaningful support and policies needed to stem this tide and help ensure all our people stay afloat.”
Sally Yeoman said:
“We know that things are tough for local people and so it was a great opportunity to bring together a range of groups from our sector to talk to Conor about what’s happening on the ground, how their beneficiaries are being affected by rising costs and what we can do to help.
“We have been working with St Helens Council on the St Helens Together approach, which has been a great success and it’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure those who can least cope with rising costs get the help they need.”
Read more about this in the St Helens Star here.