Open letters to the new Prime Minister

Man writes letters on a desk

Open letters to the new Prime Minister

With Liz Truss beginning her time as prime minister this week, the charity sector has already begun to advocate for a package of support to combat rising costs and fuel poverty. This week, we dive into the sector's top requests for the new leadership.

Ben Roberts

On Tuesday this week, Liz Truss became prime minister. The process was lengthy, with her battle for Conservative leadership against Rishi Sunak leaving a lot of us glancing at our watches as we waited to see who would come out on top. But even with the race finished, there’s no time for her to celebrate. Our new PM has stepped into a political and economic landscape bearing some of the worst emergencies in recent history. From the climate catastrophe to the cost-of-living crisis, and an inflation rate over 10% (which could potentially double over the winter), the nation is in desperate need of support from our new leadership.

During this transition, the charity sector is emphatically advocating for the needs of the public. Much in the same way as it did during the lockdown, the sector has become incredibly vocal about where more support is needed during these challenging times. Both the general public and charities themselves require a firm course of aid in the face of rising costs, and this has been expressed by various sector leaders over the first three days of Truss’ appointment. Here, we recap the past few days of open letters, pleas for action, and responses to the new PM.

Firstly, a huge number of voices from within the charity sphere have directly addressed the need for action against rising energy costs. A growing proportion of the public are being driven into fuel poverty, with research from the Money Advice Trust indicating that one in nine adults in the UK cannot afford monthly payments at their current rates. In response to this, a coalition of membership bodies have urged the new PM to step in and provide real financial aid to alleviate the immense costs being forced upon the public.

Truss has swiftly addressed this by announcing a £2,500 cap on energy bills for households; this however has been seen as too small an action, and still double the average energy spend of last winter. It has also been noted that this will more severely affect disabled people whose reliance on medical or mobility equipment will push their energy usage up. Whether any further support will be announced to combat this remains to be seen.

Support has also been entreated for charities themselves. It’s been suggested that the government should contribute to charities following the donation deficit currently in effect, allowing them to continue providing vital services for their beneficiaries. Furthermore, it’s been asked that there must be equivalent support provided to charities as there will be to businesses. During the pandemic this was often not the case, and so this provision would likely become a point of trust between the sector and current government.  

Additional points raised with the new leadership have widely included concerns over climate change. Truss’ lifting of the fracking ban holds with it the potential for massive ecological consequences, and the appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg, a fossil fuel advocate and fierce deregulation supporter, have left many concerned with the priorities of the new PM.

The government’s commitment to overseas aid was also called into question, though the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FDCO) and appointment of Vicky Ford have left some hopeful a return to 0.7% of GNI spend on foreign aid, slashed to 0.5% during Boris Johnson’s term, which is being treated as particularly vital in the wake of the climate change driven flooding in Pakistan.

Within the outpouring of requests for the new PM, a key interest from across the sector is simply for better communication between the government and charity spheres. Having faced the global pandemic and now being placed under the strains of rising costs, it’s worth demanding some recognition from within the corridors of power of the consistent frontline work being done by charities and the useful insights that they possess. Supporting this pillar is of utmost importance, as a collapse of these services would see devastating consequences for the communities who rely on them. In whatever support or package Liz Truss offers, the charity sector must not be undervalued.


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