The cost of living crisis is expected to intensify in the coming weeks, with further dramatic increases in energy bills on their way. People have been looking nervously to politicians to come up with suggestions on how they can help ease the impact of the increases.

We asked all our region's MPs a series of questions to find out what action they thought was needed. Some replied, some did not. Here are the questions we asked, and the replies we received...

  • Should parliament be recalled now?
  • Are you satisfied that the government is currently doing enough to handle the crisis?
  • What measures do you want to see introduced to ease the crisis?
  • Would you support calls to suspend the energy cap or for further windfall taxes on energy companies?
  • How many constituents and organisations have contacted you to raise concerns about the crisis? What are they telling you?

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney

%image(14497303, type="article-full", alt="Lake Lothing Crossing Consultation at The Orbis Energy Centre, Lowestoft.Local MP Peter Aldous.")

I do not feel it would be right to recall parliament during the summer recess, believing it to be more appropriate to wait until the next prime minister is in place and a clearer picture concerning the likely situation in the energy market is available.

In September, new ministers will be in place and it is important that support reflects their priorities based on what will by then be a revised assessment of the situation.

I argued and voted against the withdrawal of the pandemic-induced £20 uplift to Universal Credit last September, and continue to believe the government made a strategic mistake in proceeding with this. Millions of people would have found themselves better protected against this year's rampant inflation had the uplift been retained.

Having been disappointed that the then-chancellor did not do more in his spring statement, I was pleased to see him subsequently introduce more targeted support for the most vulnerable through direct payments and the Household Support Fund.

Clearly the situation is worsening, and more support is required.

It is essential that Universal Credit serves as a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society. This year's up-rating must represent a real-terms increase, whilst the state pension 'Triple Lock' is restored to protect pensioners.

I also believe that there is a need to secure better protections for the most vulnerable in the energy market, and am currently promoting the introduction of a social tariff. This would be designed to protect those in energy poverty who pay a perilously high proportion of their income towards energy bills.

I do not believe the time is right to suspend the price cap in current circumstances, though in the longer-term it may be necessary to review this and consider whether it is the best means of protecting vulnerable consumers and ensuring a competitive energy market.

In terms of windfall taxes, while I understand the public clamour for these it is important to have in mind that oil and gas companies' soaring profits reflect the significant increase in wholesale prices and will not last.

The UK offshore industry is now paying the highest rate of tax in its history, and is set to contribute £12-£13bn in UK tax revenue this year alone. This revenue is helping to finance the support the government has put in place.

It is also very important that taxation on energy company profits does not deter investment in new low carbon technologies.

Lowestoft stands to benefit from this in terms of creating new jobs, which in the long term will help regenerate the area.

Moreover, this investment is sorely needed to increase the UK's own capacity and deliver a higher degree of energy sovereignty. A failure to do this will see us vulnerable to global fluctuations in price and result in less protections for consumers.

Alongside NHS dentistry, the cost-of-living crisis is now the subject of the highest number of emails I receive from households and businesses in my constituency. People can see major problems coming down the track and are nervously looking to their politicians for support.

While the coming period is set to be unavoidably challenging for millions of people, it is essential that we deliver for them, with the highest degree of focus on the most vulnerable.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk

Mr Bacon did not respond for comment.

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk

%image(14497305, type="article-full", alt="North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker at Mundesley. Picture: Supplied by Duncan Baker")

Dealing with and mitigating rising energy and food costs should now be the government’s main focus. With or without a recall of parliament, this work will and must continue.

As the situation changes the government must react. People need certainty in order to plan and I think the government does understand this.

I’m pleased to see them working towards diversifying our energy supply, investing in renewables, and delivering substantial financial support to the British public.

We clearly may need to do more, but this shouldn’t negate the significant levels of support already in place.

For many people in North Norfolk, from young families to pensioners, support such as the grant for energy bills and the Household Support Fund, have been real lifelines. Let’s not forget that billions of pounds have already been mobilised to help people across the country.

However, the reality is living costs are still rising, and as I know from speaking to my own constituents, many people are struggling to manage. I therefore remain open-minded towards further action, so long as it’s both effective and fiscally responsible.

Right now, we need the chancellor and the business and energy secretary, working with energy generators towards effective solutions which deliver for people. Greater support must be made available, sooner rather than later as we get that clarity.

I am assured that should Liz Truss become the prime minister. She will hold an emergency budget and I will be advocating that we continue to bring forward every measure we can to support people with what will be a very testing winter period.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk

%image(14497306, type="article-full", alt="Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman was one of only 14 Tory MPs to vote for the Lords amendment. Picture: Ian Burt")

Mr Freeman did not respond to all the questions, however, he said:

"The global post-pandemic recovery and Ukraine war are driving a global crisis of inflation in all key sectors especially energy, food and industrial raw materials.

"This autumn and winter will see a deepening cost of living crisis for many families and households.

"It is vital that the new prime minister, chancellor and cabinet in September stand ready to put in place a serious package of support to help households and small businesses through the crisis."

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth

Mr Lewis did not respond for comment.

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South

Astonishingly, it’s only households with incomes of over £100,000 a year who aren’t experiencing an increase in severe hardship, according to academic research. And economists say that the UK crisis will be worse and last longer than in other countries. The nation is sinking into a sea of debt, deprivation and worry, and this government is giving us teaspoons to bail out with.

This stuff is not that difficult to understand. We must get a grip on high and volatile prices - including energy bills. And we need to increase incomes by boosting wages and benefits.

Short-term solutions are critical, but at the same time, we need to deal with the long-term systemic roots of the crisis.

The government can use the energy price cap mechanism to cancel the upcoming colossal price rise. If energy companies say that’d make them unprofitable, we could bring them into public ownership.

Due to climate breakdown, high and volatile energy prices aren’t going away. We’re not going back to ‘normal’. Tinkering around with ‘market solutions’ just ain’t going to cut it anymore. We need to learn from the example of France, which has used state ownership of energy to limit energy price increases to just 4pc.

This is precisely the right moment to announce a significant home insulation scheme, a fossil fuel industry nationalisation plan, a substantial renewable energy drive, and public service investment.

Hundreds of constituents have been in touch to support a radical and change in government policy or to tell me they simply won’t be able to cope much longer.

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland

%image(14497309, type="article-full", alt="Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew says the loss of Fakenham's only post office would be "completely unacceptable". Picture: Supplied")

Mr Mayhew said he was on holiday with family and would be unavailable to comment.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North

Ms Smith said she knows how important the cost of living is to constituents and she has put all the information on her website about how the government is helping. She said she would provide no further comment.

Her website outlines measures the government has already taken and does not suggest any further measures.

Liz Truss MP, for South West Norfolk

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Ms Truss did not respond for comment.

James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk

Mr Wild did not respond for comment.