On Tuesday I took part in a Citizens Advice panel after the release of their latest cost-of-living data. Though I can’t say they came as a surprise, some of the statistics presented were shocking :

• More people in 2022 couldn’t afford to top up their prepayment meter than in the past 10 years combined (2011-2021).

• The number of people they helped with a food bank referral for the first time in February 2023 was 157% higher than in February 2020, the month before the pandemic began.

I welcomed the extension of the Energy Bill Support Scheme until the summer, but millions of households are still experiencing fuel poverty or struggling with energy debts. I cannot understand how oil and gas companies continue to be allowed to make obscene profits without proper windfall taxation, as households struggle with the cost-of-living?

This event was a stark reminder of the dangers posed by a squeeze on living standards, but it also highlighted the fantastic work that advice groups like Citizens Advice continue to do, with their free helpline service

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