As under-pressure households faced a worse-than-expected hit in July with food prices pushing inflation to another 40-year high, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Houghton & Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson writes for The Northern Echo warning the cost of living is rising at a pace not seen in her lifetime.

It's been a warm summer here in the North East. But the hot weather won't last forever, and as people look ahead to winter and their energy bills, they are understandably frightened. Prices are soaring on our bills, at the tills, and at the pump. The cost of living is rising at a pace not seen in my lifetime.

I meet pensioners at their wits' end for how they will keep warm when winter comes. I hear from parents skipping meals to make sure their children don't go without. Foodbanks tell me that more families are turning down dry food - like pasta and rice - that needs heating before it can be eaten - because they simply can't afford to cook it.

Read more: Amazon Durham workers hit out at latest pay rise as GMB Union targets sites

Why? Because the energy crisis is already upon us. It's already wrecking lives and hurting families. The time for action by government is long past.

Instead, we have a zombie government, led by a Prime Minister who has walked away from his responsibilities. Meanwhile his ministers are playing fantasy economics. Tax cuts for the rich. New spending on pet projects. Urgent calls to fix a country they have spent twelve years running down. But no money and no plan for families this winter. Not a short term plan, and even after twelve years in government, not a long term plan.

The Northern Echo: Bridget PhillipsonBridget Phillipson

By contrast, Labour has a clear vision for these extraordinary times. We would end the injustice that sees people on prepayment meters paying over the odds for their energy. We would freeze energy bills for families and pensioners. We would increase the windfall tax on the oil and gas producers and close costly loopholes.

Read more: Why prices at this County Durham petrol station are among the cheapest in North East

We would stop the energy price cap rising this winter, paid for by extra tax from oil and gas giants who are making eye-watering profits. That would save the typical family £1,000 now, get energy costs under control for the future, and also reduce inflation.

And we'd be making decisions not just for this year, but for the long term. We all know that the big threat to all our futures is climate change. We would rise to that challenge and create new skilled jobs, including across the north east, by insulating 19 million homes over the next decade.

The next election cannot come soon enough. The choice is clear – between a Conservative Party that has spent twelve years running our country down, and Keir Starmer's Labour Party, putting families first, planning for Britain's future, and giving our country the fresh start we desperately need.

Bridget Phillipson MP is Member of Parliament for Houghton & Sunderland South and Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Read next:

North East location named among the most dog-friendly beaches in the UK

Next to shut major store in the Metrocentre as big retailer to take over unit

5 roadworks happening in Darlington right now as some ask 'are there any roads left'

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here