People in the Colne and Holme Valleys face a cost-of-living crisis that hasn’t been seen for as long as we can remember.
Working families are now on average £1,600 a year worse off since the last election - because wages have lagged behind prices. On top of this, families are almost £1,000 a year worse off because of the tax and benefit changes since 2010. Wages have again lagged well behind price increases in the last year.
Most people are still working harder, for longer, for less. While some new jobs have been created, increased insecurity at work is what many of us face. Yorkshire has seen the highest job losses in the UK . We now have 100,000 fewer jobs than in 2008.
Perhaps the greatest test of a Government is the way it treats its young. The Save the Children Fund said in March that five million British children have been 'sentenced to a life of poverty thanks to welfare reforms'. David Marmont is Britain’s leading public health expert. He asks if this result of the Coalition’s economic and social policies can be justified as being either fair or sensible. Or, are we just building up long-term problems?
Labour can make a difference to this shocking situation.
Ed Miliband made Labour’s priorities for action clear in May 2014. If elected next year Labour will:
- Freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017. Reform the energy market
- Get 200,000 homes a year built by 2020
- Stop families who rent being ripped off. Help them plan for the future with new, long-term, fairer tenancies
- Cut income tax for hardworking people through a lower 10p starting tax rate. Introduce a 50p top rate of tax so we pay off the deficit in a fair way
- Ban unfair zero-hour contracts
- Make work pay. Strengthen the Minimum Wage and provide tax breaks to firms which raise pay through the Living Wage
- Back small businesses. Cut business rates and reform the banks
- Help working parents. Provide 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds
- Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages. Ban recruitment agencies which hire only foreign workers. Push for stronger controls in Europe
- Back the next generation. Don’t push them on the scrapheap. Provide a job guarantee or apprenticeship for the young unemployed, paid for by taxing the bankers’ bonuses.