Today’s Spring Statement was an opportunity for the Chancellor to confront the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation and help support the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid pandemic. As prices rise and impact people and businesses across the country, meaningful action was desperately needed to help support those who are struggling to make ends meet.

The watchword of Rishi Sunak’s statement was “security”. Yet ultimately, this statement did not go nearly far enough to provide the security of a warm home, food on the table and a fair wage to millions across the country. We’re facing fundamental challenges to our energy security, food security and economic security – challenges to which this statement failed to rise.

Energy security has been given a new impetus following the war in Ukraine. With oil and gas prices reaching record highs, there has never been a more important moment to invest in cheap, clean renewable energy produced and owned right here in the UK. That’s why we welcome the Government’s move to bring in our longstanding policy of zero-rating renewable energy products like solar panels and wind turbines.

Yet for many, installing solar panels or turbines will still be cost-prohibitive. That’s why community energy schemes which enable communities to club together to build and generate their own electricity are crucial. Unfortunately, the Government is allowing its only financial support for the community energy sector to lapse later this month. As part of our energy plan, we’re calling for a new National Community Energy Fund, so that more people can take advantage of the opportunities presented by the transition to renewable power. Without that support, the benefits of zero-rating won’t reach those communities who need it most.

However, this is not the only place the Spring Statement could have done more for ‘security’.  It was announced this morning that inflation has now hit a 30-year high, with food and fuel costs continuing to spiral. The OBR has predicted “the biggest fall in living standards in any single financial year since ONS records began in 1956-57″. More and more people are facing the dire choice between heating and eating. To tackle this, we have called for a Right to Food to tackle food insecurity, to help ensure that no-one goes hungry. Instead, the Government missed an opportunity to better target support at low earners or those in receipt of Universal Credit, who are turning up at food banks in ever increasing numbers.

A more equitable financial system would make a big difference to communities throughout the UK struggling to make ends meet. The Chancellor said a key test for the Spring Statement was “making sure the proceeds of […] growth are shared fairly”. At the Co-operative Party, we know ownership is at the heart of sharing power and wealth. An effective way to do this would be by committing to grow the co-operative economy and help ensure more businesses can be owned by workers, consumers and communities – but this was another area that the Government overlooked.

In the short-term, the policies announced today did not go far enough to provide the security of a warm home, food on the table and a fair wage to millions across the country. But in the long-term too, very little vision was provided on how we can create an economy with greater security, fairer ownership and higher growth – to help move towards an economy where power and wealth are shared.