The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Rocio Cifuentes, and the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots, have issued a joint statement calling on the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to deliver immediate action to protect younger and older people against the potentially devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
The joint statement says: “We are calling on the new Prime Minister to deliver immediate action to protect younger and older people against the potentially devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis as we head into a winter that will be catastrophic for people’s health unless further support is urgently provided.
“A failure to take action will put the health and well-being of tens of thousands of younger and older people throughout Wales at significant risk due to illnesses and physical conditions caused by cold, damp housing and/or poor nutrition, which will sadly, in some cases, lead to deaths that could have been prevented.
“Without action, we will also see a decline in younger and older people’s mental health due to the stress and anxiety of living in households facing financial pressures, and our public services – which are already under significant pressure – will be pushed to breaking point.
“Far greater financial support to people this winter is needed, alongside longer-term change that will ensure that people have sufficient incomes to cover basic living costs, such as food and energy.
“For younger people, the new Prime Minister must take immediate action to put money in the pockets of families.
“There are practically no elements of a child’s life unaffected by the impact of poverty, and so many are going to experience real hardship this winter. This crisis comes as 190,000 children are already living in poverty in Wales.
“Quite simply, people need more money. The UK Government needs to substantially increase its direct support for energy bills. There also needs to be a significant uplift to Universal Credit which reflects soaring inflation. In terms of benefits, the two-child limit continues to be a breach of children’s human rights, directly punishing children for simply having two or more siblings. Children should not be penalised for actions beyond their control. Welsh Government must also use all the powers they have to ease the cost of living. One way they could this would be to have free transport for all under 18s.
“For older people, the new Prime Minister must make commitments to reinstate the Triple Lock mechanism on the State Pension for 2023-24, alongside reviewing the adequacy of the State Pension.
“They must also review and permanently upgrade the Winter Fuel Payment ahead of next year’s payment, in recognition of the significant decrease in its value since it was last set; and deliver an auto-enrolment system for Pension Credit to ensure that those on the lowest incomes do not miss out on the financial support they are entitled to as is currently often the case.
“For too long, the discussion and debate about how best to support people of different ages has been too focused on pitting generations against one another and creating divisive narratives that risk leading us to a race to the bottom, where we will find people of all ages cold, hungry and without support.
“The price that will be paid by individuals, and society as a whole, if this is allowed to happen due to government inaction is simply unacceptable, which is why the new Prime Minister must act quickly and decisively to deliver the crucial, potentially life-saving, support that so many younger and older people are getting more and more desperate for by the day. Because of their age, younger and older people are uniquely vulnerable to the winter fuel crisis this winter, and the new Prime Minister must step up to prioritise their needs.”