silver round coins on blue round container
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Today may be April Fool’s Day but unfortunately no one is laughing at the cost of living crisis. With people struggling to make ends meet across the country, the 1st April has presented further problems for household expenses. As energy prices are set to rise by approximately £700 today, the Governor of the Bank of England has stated that the UK is facing the biggest energy price shock since the 1970s. This follows only a week after the Chancellor failed to take the necessary action to reduce the financial strain on working families all over the nation.

The Co-operative Party believes action is needed now to alleviate the rising costs of living. We know co-operative policies can provide solutions. Through targeted action on food justice and community energy, we could begin to make the costs of living more bearable for people across the country.

Supporting community energy initiatives would help to reduce our reliance on oil and gas, whose producers continue to reap large profits as prices soar. Community energy empowers communities to improve their energy efficiency or transition to renewable power sources. By joining together as a co-operative, local communities can spread the cost of investing in new energy saving materials or renewable energy sources, while sharing in the resulting profits. Community control and ownership of new green energy sources will help to reduce overall energy costs, which are contributing to the cost of living crisis. To enable this to happen, the Government should commit to properly fund the sector, and replace the Rural Community Energy Fund with a new National Community Energy Fund which supports community energy initiatives.

Food insecurity due to unaffordable price rises is another growing issue which affects many in society. Too many people are currently being forced to make the choice between heating and eating in the sixth richest country on earth. This is completely unacceptable, and action is needed now to guarantee a Right to Food. We are calling on the Government to legislate for a Right to Food to be enshrined in law, so the UK meets its commitment to end hunger as set out in the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). But we also know we cannot wait for the Government to act. We believe local people and authorities need to be empowered to deliver food justice, to bridge the crucial gap in support from Westminster. By appointing a Food Champion with responsibility for delivering food justice, local council members can take a crucial role in helping to put food on the tables of economically vulnerable people. We encourage local authorities to develop local food plans and support local food partnerships, which will be key measures in enabling food justice. Collectively these actions could help to reduce the pressure on costs of living relating to food for millions.

As co-operators we are committed to building a society in which power and wealth are shared. By creating a more equitable society, we can reduce the economic pressures which drive people into financial hardship. Action to achieve food justice and build community energy will be an important step in the right direction.