It is too easy to roll your eyes when those who have everything rob from those with nothing.
But we cannot cross by on the other side in response to the latest Tory Budget.
This Government aren’t just walking by but walking all over working people.
Below-inflation pay rises on the table. Cuts to major services. Councils starved of cash, while the NHS is on its knees and yet the richest always gaining at the expense of others.
The top one per cent saw their pension pots grow while the 99 per cent of us pay.
Those figures may be familiar to you. Across this planet the top 1one per cent hold 99 per cent of the world’s wealth and my goodness some are paying dear.
The Chancellor didn’t miss an opportunity either to kick people when they are down.
Those who struggle to comply with ever more punitive job centre rules will be subject to harsher sanctions and people on the sick booted into work, even when their doctors say ‘no’.
Businesses missed out too on vital energy support, except for swimming pools who got a package to mask the fact that the Prime Minister has just installed his heated garden pool at his North Yorkshire mansion.
Then there was nothing on housing, nothing on the climate, nothing for York and North Yorkshire, despite the ambition that many of us have for our city.
Inequality grows while here in the North our opportunity froze.
The only headline which caught the public attention was an offer on childcare – and my goodness, don’t we need it. 76 per cent of parents say it’s just not worth working when the current costs take most your salary.
In York, the average monthly cost of childcare is £1,083.33 – some pay more – while the average wage is just £1,980. that equates to 54.71 per cent of wages spent on childcare.
Yet before the end of the debate, the Chancellor’s childcare plans unravelled.
Economists, according to York-based charity ‘Pregnant then Screwed’, estimated that £1.85bn was needed to bridge the cost of three and four year old provision. Yet only £208m was offered.
The Chancellor’s offer extends to babies over nine months. Calculations show that spend, in real terms under this scheme, will be a third less than when Labour was in power (and when £4,100 was invested in Sure Start placements for every child attending in today’s money).
Hidden in the detail, the Chancellor’s plan will not start this Parliament, and then only for 15 hours, not 30 hours a week. But by then we will have a Labour Government, with real ambition for working families, as we always have.
There was nothing in the Chancellor’s plan about how to pay the incredible childcare profession a decent wage, not the minimum wage. Instead they will work harder caring for five not four children per adult. Quality in nurturing these little ones matters, with Labour, it is the most important of investments.
The most damning part of the budget showed tnat, after 13 years of the Tories, the economy is not growing, productivity is scraping the bottom and borrowing is higher than ever.
We simply cannot afford the Tories anymore. They crashed the economy last Autumn, they have wiped £100bn a year off the books with Brexit and they have stuffed their pockets with gold. It is time for change.
Let’s rebuild a country where the grubby handouts end and everyone in every community gets their share. Where we build the houses people can afford, rebuild our public services and rebuild our communities. Short term politics always fails. Businesses need a boost. Innovation, imagination. Enterprise, energy and excitement.
Last weekend, sleeves rolled up, I was working with the very people who are bringing that hope to York, the jobs we desperately need where everyone will gain. The opportunities that young people are reaching for and the peace of mind that families dream of. I want York to be the most creative, inclusive and family friendly city in the country. I want sustainable innovation and just governance.
It is never a given, but instead we need to make it happen. Let’s no longer roll our eyes or walk by on the other side, but feel the injustice and bring the hope. That is the difference a budget can make. This one failed. So let us determine one that will be the change we want to see.
This article first appeared in York Press on 22nd March 2023