Metro Mayor Dan Norris has joined forces with Gordon Brown, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and other local leaders in warning that the Government’s cost-of-living support for poor households is not enough to protect them through the “most serious cost-of-living crisis in decades”.

Almost all of the 16,400 people on Universal Credit across the West of England are receiving support of at least £1,200 this year, including a one-off £650 cost of living payment.

But in an open letter to the UK Government, the group of 56 Labour leaders, faith groups and charities said the loss of the £20-a-week uplift introduced during the pandemic, benefit levels pegged way below inflation and rising energy prices will leave families between £1,300 and £1,600 worse off come October.

Mayor Norris also pointed to new research from the University of York showing that in total, including the West of England, the number of people in fuel poverty in the South West is set to rise to 3.2 million – or 55.5% of all households – in January without urgent action from the Treasury.

The letter signed by the Metro Mayor calls on the Government to consider appropriate measures to “bridge the shortfall” in the finances of families reliant on Universal Credit.

Mayor Norris attacked the “radio silence” from the Tory hopefuls bidding to succeed Boris Johnson in Downing Street on the cost-of-living crisis this summer. He is calling for an emergency Budget before the energy price cap is revised in October to help cash-strapped families through the difficult months ahead.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “This is a crisis that the West of England hasn’t seen in living memory. Thousands dread the coming months, unable to afford their energy and food bills as they fall deeper into a financial black hole not of their making. And yet there has been total radio silence from both Tory leadership candidates on the spiralling cost of living who instead float unworkable measures offering nothing to get people through this emergency. We’ve already had three budgets this year. But I’m afraid we now need a fourth. Our next Prime Minister must back Labour’s call for an emergency budget to offer real solutions during the cost-of-living crisis. The case for this is now unanswerable”.

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