With overflowing generosity and kindness, last weekend local people, schools and companies gave their blankets, hats, coats, jumpers, socks, gloves, thermals, and so much more as part of my York Warm Weekend.
All were wanting to support fellow residents who are feeling the cold this winter as energy costs soar. I was completely blown away.
Hundreds of people will benefit from the kindness of strangers, whether it is by new coats for the kids or one of the beautiful hand-knitted blankets.
For those who receive, I can only relate the love that donors had in wanting to help people keep warm and safe. It is this kindness that makes our city special and shows we are ‘York Together’.
I believe that if you have, give; and if you have need, receive. It should be how society works.
Progressive tax systems support those in need. Like our NHS, we contribute, and when we are sick, we benefit. It is how civil society works; the backbone to every community.
Right now, our economy is in a complete mess. We are now 38th out of 38 countries in the OECD, have the slowest growth in the G7, and now a trade deficit of over 25 per cent with the EU.
On September 23, after more than a decade of financial mismanagement, the then new Tory Chancellor wiped £30bn off the value of the economy. Economically reckless and ridiculous in one; the now former Chancellor and Prime Minister have simply walked away with huge payouts, leaving the rest of us footing the bill.
Inflation has shot up to 11.1 per cent, and we are facing the biggest drop in living standards since records began. Many people with mortgages or in private rented accommodation face huge increases in monthly housing payments.
Without further Government support, those who do not have this extra money will struggle to maintain the roof over their heads.
In the same week as people in York donated, we had the Government’s Autumn Statement.
Despite the economic turmoil we face, it let ‘Nom Doms’ off the hook, and allowed oil and gas producers to continue to profit to the tune of billions, while the rest of us are expected to pay fierce new energy tariffs.
It is simply wrong. Again, Government has chosen to protect those that profit, not the people.
My main concern, however, is what the Chancellor failed to mention. Austerity 2.0. In 2011, although the depth of the cuts harshly slashed services, there was some cushion left in the system.
In 2022, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement included £28bn of public spending cuts and this time our services have nothing left to give.
If police are cut, crime will rise. If school budgets are squeezed, teachers and support staff will be cut.
While the additional funding for the NHS sounded like a lot, it was only a 2.4 per cent increase while inflation is at 11.1 per cent. Those waiting lists will grow.
Across public services wages will be suppressed. The pensions and benefits that were announced will not come into effect until April, leaving people to manage huge levels of inflation until then.
Overall, people having less disposable income suppresses growth. Spending falls and local businesses pay a heavy price. Austerity 2.0 will not only leach our services, it will also make the recession we are now in longer and deeper.
Labour will put stability and security at the heart of everything we do. In Government, we will put the basics right and set the economic rules and discipline to deliver a fair economy that works for all. Working people deserve so much better.
In York, we know that this will bite hard, but our kindness and generosity makes us stronger.
I know people across York are going the extra mile – putting in the extra hours and putting in the extra effort to make sure people are cushioned from the very worst, offering warm spaces, warm meals and warm friendship.
While I will work hard to make your case to the Government, I have hope because of you. ‘York Together’ will help to get us through.