As Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, I get to talk with many residents about the issues affecting their lives and those of their families.
We hear a lot of numbers thrown around about the economy but when you talk with people directly most often you hear how life has got harder, with rising prices eating into years of frozen pay.
It’s often said the big question at each General Election is: do you feel better off than you did five years ago? I certainly don’t think that’s the only question, the state of services and of our community will always be on people’s minds, but for that simple question the answer for most residents will be a decisive ‘no’. UK-wide families are on average £1,600 a year worse off since the last election and in Crawley the figure’s much higher, in large part due to the failure to tackle the cost of housing.
Since taking control of the council in May, Labour has required all new developments to include at least 40% affordable housing, we’re actively working to build new council housing while safeguarding green space and we’ve changed the housing allocation rules so that applicants need five-years residency in Crawley to qualify for a council house, ensuring local people benefit from new housing which is brought forward.
Yet it’s on the national-level that much more needs to be done. Labour has committed to guaranteeing every school leaver with the right grades an apprenticeship and providing working parents with 25-hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds. In addition, the party will stop recruitment agencies from only hiring foreign workers and make it illegal to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers. Furthermore, Labour will ban exploitative zero-hour contracts, cut income tax through a lower 10p band, strengthen the Minimum Wage and provide tax breaks to firms that introduce the Living Wage.
Economic growth is meaningless unless the average household can benefit from that growth. A future Labour Government is committed to delivering the change we need to build an economy that works for the many and not just the few.