Here’s how EU countries are helping people with the cost of living

Energy prices have just risen by almost £700, food prices are rising, and the Tories have just imposed a tax rise on working people, while cutting Universal Credit for low income families.

While European countries are taking real action to tackle the cost of living crisis, Westminster simply sits on its hands.

Rishi Sunak’s response to the crisis, centred on a £200 “heat now, pay later” loan, is woefully inadequate.

Here’s how it compares internationally.

🇫🇷 France

While energy prices in the UK rose by 54%, the French government chose to cap them at 4%.

Instead of passing on the high wholesale energy prices onto consumers, the French energy company EDF has been forced to take a hit to protect household incomes.

On top of that, France introduced a 15 cent-per-litre reduction in fuel (compared to 5p in the UK), and low-income French households received a one-off payment of €100 to help with rising energy costs.

🇩🇪 Germany

The German government is giving everyone a one-off €300 payment to help with the cost of living, and a further €100 for each child.

On top of this, anybody receiving state benefits will receive an additional €100.

Additionally, Germany has cut fuel tax by 30 cents on petrol, compared to the 5p announced by Rishi Sunak.

🇪🇸 Spain

Spain has lowered VAT on energy bills from 21% to 10% until June, while taxes on electricity have been cut from 7% to 0.5%.

The Spanish government has also levied a windfall tax on energy companies, helping to ease the burden of high costs for consumers.

The SNP has called for a broad windfall tax, including energy companies and major corporations like Amazon, but Rishi Sunak has failed to deliver it or devolve the necessary powers to Holyrood.

🇮🇪 Ireland

The Irish government has given households a €200 energy rebate, with those who are claiming fuel allowance receiving €125 on top of that.

Public transport fares have also been reduced by 20% until the end of the year, to help with rising costs.

🇧🇪 Belgium

In 2016, Boris Johnson and the Brexit campaign said that leaving the EU would mean cheaper energy bills through a VAT cut. They failed to deliver that.

Meanwhile, Belgium has cut VAT on energy from 21% to 6% until July.

All households also got an electricity bill discount of €100.

Meanwhile, the UK is the only major economy to put up taxes on working people during the cost of living crisis

The Tories have now increased National Insurance, a regressive tax that hits working people on middle and lower incomes – while going ahead with a £4bn tax cut for bankers.

At a time when the cost of living hits families hard, the National Insurance tax hike is equivalent to 0.5% of GDP in additional taxes.

Meanwhile, Germany introduced tax cuts worth 0.5% of GDP, Italy has cut taxes to a 0.2% equivalent, and all G7 countries have no personal tax rate increases.

The UK government made a political choice not to act

As EU countries step up and help people with the cost of living, the UK Tory government made a political choice not to.

The Scottish council elections on May 5 are the opportunity to send the Tories a message, cast a verdict on their woeful inaction, and elect local champions who will always stand up for your community.

Click here to register to vote – make sure you do it by 18 April. You can also apply for a postal vote here.

Watch our video explaining how the voting system works, and pass it on to 5 friends or family.