Cost of living crisis: Edinburgh's demands for Liz Truss as she becomes Prime Minister
With the cost of living crisis spiralling out of control, the Edinburgh Evening News has launched a campaign to urge the new Prime Minister to take urgent action to help households and businesses in our city.
This is what we have to say to the Prime Minister:
Prime Minister, we need urgent help.
As you today prepare to meet the Queen at Balmoral after securing the keys to Number 10, we have this stark message for you on behalf of everyone in Edinburgh.
We need help - now - to prevent a cost-of-living catastrophe in our city.
Businesses will fold, many people will go cold, hungry or both and some may even die unless you, Ms Truss, take action immediately.
Spiralling energy prices are already hitting the poorest in Edinburgh hardest. It is a scandal that prepayment meters, used by many on low incomes, come with higher energy costs under the price cap. It can’t be right that someone on a prepayment meter is charged more than anyone else to boil a kettle or put on the heating.
Students who are moving to our city this month to embark on a new and exciting chapter in their lives have written to us to say they will have to limit the number of meals they eat per day if they are to simply keep the lights on and keep their flats warm. Some are even taking showers at their gym or work to avoid using the energy in their homes.
Even before this crisis, so many young professionals and families were forced to leave the city if they wanted to buy a house or even rent a flat. While the new Prime Minister will not be responsible for the sky high property costs in Edinburgh, anything that can be done to keep living costs down over the next few months will ensure that the Capital remains a home for everyone, regardless of their background, wealth or class.
And the businesses which make this city such a great place to live and visit are facing yet another challenge which could see them forced to close their doors in just weeks or, if they are lucky, months.
After years of uncertainty and struggle caused by the coronavirus pandemic, during which they worked to deliver goods to our doors and were forced to adapt to ensure we could enjoy their services even in the strictest of lockdowns, it is wrong that our business owners are once again fighting an impossible battle just to keep afloat.
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is warning that time is already running out for you to take radical action, such as temporarily cutting VAT and National Insurance contributions, in order to prevent widespread job losses.
This is a city - a beautiful one - which attracts people from across the globe all year every year. It is rich in history and culture and that will stand the test of time.
But if allowed to continue down the path we are headed, Scotland’s Capital will become a graveyard of empty units and boarded up windows. It will be a city even more full of short term lets and void of any real community. It will be a shadow of its former self.
More importantly it is the people who make up this city and they must be protected at all costs from the soaring prices of wholesale gas, which have sent heating and electricity prices into the stratosphere.
It’s not only those already on the breadline who will struggle this winter, though they will of course struggle most, but taxpayers’ cash must be used to help everyone but the very richest.
Downing Street has shown before that it will act in times of great national peril. We are unfortunately, such a short time later, facing such a time once again.
We are calling on you, Liz Truss, to take immediate action, specifically:
- To stop the cost of energy from going above double the levels seen last winter, for both households and businesses;
- To help those on prepayment meters so they are no longer facing higher energy prices; and
- To tell energy companies that they cannot cut off the supply to any homes this winter if people fall behind on their bills.
Our people here in Edinburgh cannot be left to fend for themselves through these unprecedented times.
Both the UK and Scottish governments must work together to ensure that this cost-of-living crisis does not cost lives in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Truss must put aside their political differences, of which there are clearly many, for the greater good of those they serve as our leaders. That is what we pay and expect them to do.
(On behalf of the Edinburgh Evening News and our readers)