Since I was elected to the Senedd over a year ago, and given the role as Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on equalities, the phrase that I’ve said the most in the Senedd by far is ‘Cost of Living’.

I first raised it in the chamber as part of Plaid Cymru’s debate on household debt, considering the effect of the Covid pandemic.

At the time, the steady increase in council tax arrears, the price of utility bills and fuel costs were suggesting that a difficult time lay ahead – the perfect storm. And we in Plaid Cymru, were calling for radical measures to help reduce debt and expand the Winter Fuel Support scheme from within its seasonal constraints.

I had taken part in an Inquiry as part of my committee work, and had heard the stark and haunting testimony by one witness who warned that in 2022 we were looking at a potential 30% increase in gas and electricity prices forcing people to decide between heating their homes or feeding themselves and their families. ‘This,’ they said, ‘is going to push people into Victorian-style poverty.’

Well, here we are.

As predicted, household utility costs have spiralled, along with an array of other factors pummelling household incomes. The pound has gone off a cliff-edge and inflation is through the roof, petrol and food prices are sky-rocketing, and even in the height of summer – when central heating is barely switched on – gas and electric bills have never been higher.

We really are in the eye of the storm.

After calling consistently for improved support from Westminster, Plaid Cymru welcomed movement from the UK Government as they gave in to the calls of opposition parties for a windfall tax, but the household payments that they will fund – as a payment not a loan, thankfully – are needed now and should be better targeted towards those who need the most support.

The UK Government should also consider what measures can be made to help front line workers with fuel costs in roles that require them to travel, such as carers and health care workers who need to go from one client to the next. To be in a situation where carers cannot afford to give care is immoral and needs addressing.

There is more that the Welsh Government can do as well, and we continue to call for the Winter Fuel Support scheme to lose its seasonal constraints and be an all-year round scheme.

Whether it’s for heating or eating, bathing or cleaning, people are being hit by huge energy bills during these summer months. People are receiving bills for July that are higher than their previous bills in December. This is why support must be provided all year round for as long as this crisis persists.

We should also be looking at widening eligibility criteria, so that everyone who needs support has access to it, such as those on pension credits.

It's mid-summer, but the sky is full of dark economic clouds and the long days are leading not to a feeling of relaxation but to an anxious autumn. We must ensure that the help we can offer reaches as many households as possible to help protect people from a storm the likes of which none of us have ever witnessed.