Speech to Full Council: The Great British Rip Off

Anyone who has spoken to people in Sheffield will be amazed at the LibDem motion. I don’t think I have ever seen a motion that is so out-of-touch, so aloof and so smug. Crisis – what crisis?

Of course, any improvement in the British economy is very welcome, however weak and however overdue.

But nobody should be in any doubt about this change  – it is for the South East, it is for the rich and it is for the short-term.

Let’s remember that 93% of people on zero-hour contracts don’t get any benefit from the rise in tax allowance whatsoever. The increase in tax allowance is almost entirely used by people earning over £30k – it doesn’t benefit the lowest paid whatsoever.

  • So if the economy is doing so well, why is the government planning to borrow an extra £190 billion MORE than they planned?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why does the IFS say an extra 400,000 children will be in poverty by 2015?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are Councils being told to brace themselves for another 4 years of even more savage cuts?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are over 850,000 young people still out of work?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are living standards still falling?

The answer is because the economy isn’t nearly strong enough. Most working people are not feeling a recovery at all. And even worse, it is built on another housing bubble AND confined to one part of the country AND helping the richest the most.

The Lib-Dems and Tories may be happy with an economy that is low-wage, low-pay and low security, but Sheffield deserves better.

  • That’s why Labour would guarantee a job for every young person out of work for more than a year.
  • That’s why Labour would clamp down on exploitative zero hour contracts.
  • That’s why Labour will freeze energy bills for homes and businesses for two years.

Our communities need real action now, not the LibDems telling people they should feel richer and should be grateful for all the kind things the LibDems have done for them.

So let me finish by saying that if the Liberal Democrats want to make this general election a fight over who can stand up best for families, who can create good jobs and who can help with the cost of living crisis – I have only three words to say to them: Bring it on.



Sheffield Relaunches the Big Sheffield Switch

Sheffield City Council is helping to throw a financial lifeline to families and individuals struggling with rising living costs as it launches the popular Big Sheffield Switch deal once again.

The council is asking residents throughout the region to sign up, switch and save with the free-to-join ‘Big Sheffield Switch,’ which aims to help homeowners and tenants save money on their gas and electricity bills by joining an online auction with energy suppliers. The more households who sign up from this week, the more buying power the council will have and the better the deal for participants.

More than 800 people benefitted from the first Big Sheffield Switch last year, saving an average £120 each. Some homeowners reported a massive £352 saving.

This year’s auction will take place on 10 March and participants can switch anytime until 24 March.

Councillor Jack Scott, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, said:

“I know that energy bills are a really big concern for lots of people, so I’m delighted to be launching The Big Sheffield Switch again and building on what was a really successful scheme in 2013.

“If you are worried about rising energy costs and the effect big bills may have on your family’s budget then this is a great, simple way of making sure you get signed up to the deal that offers you the best value for money. Even better – by signing up, people are helping other switchers in the city get access to even better energy bills too.

“We’re really excited to also be offering an environmentally friendly tariff and greater choice so people can choose which the package that benefits them the most. I hope as many people as possible sign up to this scheme and we can all save a lot of money together.”

The scheme is really simple and open to everyone. The energy suppliers bid for the householders’ custom by offering their cheapest tariff and the best value providers will be chosen. The top five tariffs, plus eco-friendly options, will be offered to residents who have signed up.

Anyone can register and switch to the new energy deal – even if they currently pay their energy bills by direct debit, cheque, cash or use a pre-payment meter. It also applies if you own your own home, rent from a private landlord, Sheffield Homes or another social landlord, have never switched before or whether you live in Sheffield or not.

Households are under no obligation and when they receive their offer they can choose to accept it or not depending upon whether it works for them. All residents will need when they register is a recent energy bill so that their annual energy usage can be calculated.

Margaret Nichols, of Deepcar, took advantage of the Big Sheffield Switch last year and says she uses a lot of gas to keep her home warm.

“I feel the cold a lot so the temperature in my home is always about 25 degrees,” she said.

“That’s why it’s so important that I’m on the right tariff which offers the best value for money. We’ve saved on electricity, which I’m pleased about. I’m quite savvy about managing my money and bills but I think the Big Sheffield Switch is great for people who are perhaps not as confident looking around for the best deal. I’ve already recommended the Switch to my brother and sister in law and my neighbours. It was a good experience and really easy.”

For more information about the Big Sheffield Switch or to register your interest call 0800 9887035 or visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/cheaperenergy.