Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 14th December 2016

There are now more working households in poverty than those households where no one works. For all the Prime Minister’s talk, we are fast becoming a country where work no longer pays, with over 7.4m people in working households living in poverty already, with parents working full-time on the National Living Wage set to see their families sink below the poverty line by 2020.

Yet rather than focus on tackling the stagnant pay and rising living costs which affect us all, they point the finger at those on benefits. Let’s be clear, if someone can work then they should work, but removing social protections won’t make any of us better off, just more vulnerable if we fall on hard times.

This can’t be the England we want to live in, one where we increasingly struggle to make ends meet but feel better about ourselves so long as we can make those poorer than us even poorer. As a country we have the ability to tackle this problem, we just lack a Government willing to take the necessary steps.

We need to focus on attracting new economic investment by ensuring we have the skills and the infrastructure businesses need to succeed and in the process we can improve pay and protect rights like paid holiday. There’s no point in the Government continuing to try and to out-compete developing nations on low pay, that isn’t competition it’s exploitation.

We must tackle the rising costs of living, chief amongst which is the out-of-control price of housing. The Government recently announced that they will build 40,000 affordable houses to help tackle the cost of housing. Crawley has 0.2% of the UK’s population so that equates to only 80 houses for a town of our size, compare that to Crawley Labour’s programme which is building 1,250 homes for local residents. The Government’s ‘flagship’ housing programme is pathetic, simply the illusion of action.

Why should anyone in England in the Twenty-First Century have to live in poverty? Why doesn’t the Government do its job, making work pay and tackling the cost of living. Enough is enough.

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