The Reporting Back from Westminster column with Sir Greg Knight: We are fighting on several fronts

The main concern that people are raising with me at the moment is the soaring cost of living.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th May 2022, 7:37 am
East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight.
East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight.

The main concern that people are raising with me at the moment is the soaring cost of living.

This is no surprise. There have been huge increases in energy costs around the world and these feed into household bills directly – and also indirectly: food production is energy-intensive as is the manufacture of goods.

The coronavirus pandemic has also put great pressure on the public finances – not least with interest payments on the extra borrowing; as well as the stored-up demands on the NHS, the cost of which we must all now share.

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Rising energy costs have worked their way through to household budgets.

These pressures work their way through to household budgets. For some, it really is a cost of living “crisis” with serious financial hardship, which we must address. For others, it will continue to involve some tough economies and decisions as incomes fall in real terms.

The Government has brought in some measures to help but I am pressing it to do more. Ministers need to continue to find savings to allow an easing of the tax burden as soon as possible. If families are having to look rigorously at where they can cut back, then so should the state.

I am pleased that a review of Quangos is underway to see which ones can be abolished or scaled back.

Their annual spending is a staggering £220 billion and the aim is to achieve substantial savings.

Another way to help is to scrap unnecessary and costly regulations. Officials no longer have the excuse that these are all required by the EU. Each individual bit of red tape might be modest, but cumulatively the burden is significant. Sometimes they make no sense at all and have a perverse impact. Farming and food supply is an important area where bureaucracy can not only punish the farmer but increases the cost of food for the rest of us.

Of course, the unexpected war in Ukraine has contributed to our economic difficulties. But that is nothing compared to the suffering of the Ukrainian people whose courage and determination has been such an inspiration. They have been sacrificing their homes and sometimes their lives for their country – for the cause of freedom and national independence.

It is right that we do all we can to help them – not only morally but for our own security interests.

Appeasement of Russia would be a terrible mistake. We can be proud of our role in leading the world in the help we are giving. Having identified the serious nature of the threat, we have been providing training and military supplies months ahead of other countries. Ukrainians have made it very clear that our support has not gone unnoticed.

For all their skill and valour, the supplies we have provided have been critical for their survival as a sovereign people. Recently, Boris Johnson became the first world leader to address the Ukrainian Parliament since the conflict began.

He said that the conflict is without moral ambiguities – about democracy versus tyranny, freedom versus oppression. “We in the UK will do everything we can to restore a free sovereign and independent Ukraine.”

In the same spirit of national pride, we all look forward to the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations taking place in June, not just in Yorkshire but across the country.

I like the idea of making the extra bank holiday permanent – shared holidays help to bring communities together and, of course, many tourists will head to East Yorkshire for their welcome break!