Thursday, 15 August 2013

Tackling cost of living and poverty is a campaign issue but Labour councils can also act now

Over the last few weeks and months the issue of the cost of living has kept popping up.  This week it's felt like the issue is something that even if we wanted to avoid it we couldn't.  Thames Water announcing they want a sudden extra £30 on top of the previously agreed amount is just one more thing:  the increased gas, electricity and food bills we are all facing (not to mention transport costs – I'm glad I'm not a rail commuter unlike so many of my friends in Reading).
I agree completely with those who are saying this needs to be a key battleground issue for the Labour party and for consumer and residents groups alike. 
However I also believe that as Labour councillors that we where we have the opportunity we should act now to tackle the cost of living and poverty.  One initiative I'm very pleased that we are pushing in Reading now (rather than waiting for winter) is our warm homes initiative.  It's particularly targeted at households experiencing fuel poverty but any resident can take advantage of it.  I've advertised it on our local website Whitleynews.org.
There's more that needs to be done and I'm looking at what Reading Council can do to particularly tackle poverty amongst older people and those with disabilities (since as lead member for Adult Social care that's the area I have responsibility for) – those in the latter category have been particularly hard hit by this government.   My fellow councillors are considering it too in other ways.
Of course a local council can't do everything and we shouldn't pretend we can, but we can't wait for a general election to tackle poverty and the squeeze on our living standards– 21 months is too long to wait when we're all struggling and those at the sharp end are really suffering.
I'd be really interested to hear what other councils are doing on this, and what residents think we can get the council to do - get in touch.

UPDATED for typo correction