A decade of inaction on the problems facing Britain, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 6th April 2022

This May marks ten years since I became Labour Leader on Crawley Borough Council. To say a lot has happened in that time is an understatement, given the general chaos in which the country now seems to find itself plunged into once crisis or another year after year.

Yet, for everything which has happened, a decade on it’s depressing to realise that the big problems facing most people in Crawley and across the UK remain much the same as they were in 2012. The cost-of-living crisis, the absence of a plan for adult social care, the shortage of housing people can afford, the underfunding of our National Health Service, the lack of action on crime and antisocial behaviour. For all the commitments made, nothing much our Conservative Government has done with the time they have had has helped move the UK forwards.

Let’s take childcare as an example. Pledges to make childcare cheaper to help parents get back into work have been a regular feature in Conservative manifestos, including at the last General Election. Yet, for all the promises, the cost of childcare for a 38-week school year now costs parents in our area £10,984.28, with surveys indicating 39% of parents in our region have been forced to cut their working hours due to the cost of childcare.

This system isn’t only bad for those families, it’s bad for the country’s economy and consequently on the public services which depend upon UK tax revenue. The fact we’ve reached this point shouldn’t come as any surprise, all the signs were there a decade ago, we just needed a Government prepared to do more than bluster.

There is an alternative and Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would enable children to go to breakfast clubs and after school activities for free, boosting children’s wellbeing post-pandemic, and support working parents.

Surely, it’s the role of Government to actually try to help fix problems facing the country, rather than just paying them lip service and then pointing the finger at everyone other than those actually responsible. Unfortunately, for now, it seems that’s what we’re stuck with.

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