Recessions make life harder for people and in 2010 when the Coalition Government proposed a series of changes to social security the council set up a scrutiny panel to adapt to these changes and help people with financial deprivation.
Fast-forward three years and the centrepiece of the Tory programme, universal credit, is still not in a fit state to rollout. When it eventually comes into effect the policy will have real consequences for those suffering financial deprivation and it’s important the council is ready. Yet local Tories are now looking to close the down the panel right when we need to do more, not less, to help households adapt.
Since 2010, real household incomes have decreased by £1,500 per year. To catch up the ground lost since the last General Election the UK would need to average 1.4% economic growth between now and 2015. We’re not even close.
But growth only matters if it makes a difference to actual household incomes and so far the Government has been deaf to the rising cost of living. Energy prices are a good example. While Labour would use the two years of a price freeze to reform the market, the Tories want to make it easier for energy companies to turn a profit and harder to finance renewables by cutting Green taxes.
Housing is also too expensive, with shortages pushing up the price. We need more housing and more affordable housing but Crawley has run out of space. That’s why Labour’s ‘Right to Grow’ would enable the town to look past its current boundaries to provide people with an affordable place to live, without sacrificing our playing-fields.
From expanding free childcare for working parents to creating a fairer tax system, national and local government could do much to help people make ends meet while cutting the deficit, but nationally the Tories are failing to act and locally they’re trying to close down the one body looking at these issues.
Only a Government on the side of ordinary residents will tackle the rising cost of living and for those of us in the Labour Group it’s our number one concern.