Bibby's Blog - Tuesday 11th November 2008
Last week the Gazette published a story which reported that a debt advice service in Johnstone has seen a massive increase in enquiries in the last few months.
Gazette readers know these are difficult economic times, we have seen rising fuel and food prices. Even if we don't notice the price of individual goods and commodities going up we all notice when we feel that there is less money in our pockets.
The whole world is being affected by the credit crunch at the moment. The rising oil prices have escalated the prices of other goods because of increased transportation costs and this is being felt the world over.
At these times it is important that the Governement tries to make life easier for people and also help stimulate the economy and there are some important measures that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has taken to help.
In terms of fuel costs, the Government has frozen fuel duty this year and has increased the Winter Fuel Payment by £50 for the over 60's and £100 for the over 80's to help people particularly the elderly with their fuel bills. The Governent has also been working with energy companies to offer 50% off insulation for all households in order to cut down the amount of heat we lose out of our homes. Some other energy companies have also been offering things such as low energy lightbulbs. In addition the Prime Minister has personally visited some of the major oil producing (OPEC) countries to encourage them to increase production and there has been an increase in production which will hopefully bring down oil prices.
I have said previously in the Gazette that we need to try and reduce our reliance on oil and that in the long term we should try to increase the amount of renewable energy we produce in this country.
I am pleased that most of the major Banks have now decided to pass on the Bank of England's recent interest rate cut to their customers. I think the majority of people would have quite rightly been outraged if they had not because this will help reduce mortgage repayments at this time. To help the housing market the rate at which Stamp Duty is paid has also increased from £125,000 to £175,000.
These are tough times for people and I am pleased the Government has recognised this by also giving everyone a £120 tax cut this year with £60 being cut from pay packets in September.
At a local level, I was pleased to support the move by Renfrewshire Council to increase the advice sessions being offered locally to make sure people are claiming what benefits they are entitled to. I want every local person to be claiming what they are entitled to.
There are a number of useful contacts I want to make Gazette readers aware of to help with this. At a local level there is Advice Works  and Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau and at a national level useful advice can be gained from and
There is no doubt that these are tough economic times and I hope that the above links are helpful in providing advice on support available and the action being taken.