We have had a debate recently on the cost of living crisis affecting people in Salford. The facts are clear. On average, working people are now £1,600 a year worse off than they were in 2010 when the Conservative-led Government came into power.
Energy bills are up by almost £300 a year, with more increases on the way. Rail fares have gone up 20% and childcare costs have gone up by a third. Thousands of households across Salford are having to find over £700 extra a year to pay the Bedroom Tax. This unfair charge hits disabled and vulnerable people and their carers the hardest.
Families have seen cuts to tax credits and child benefit. Salford City Council has had cuts of over £100 million to its budgets from the Government. This year, Salford will have to change its eligibility levels for social care. Only those with needs assessed as "substantial" or "critical" will qualify for publicly-funded care. One thousand people in Salford will either have to pay for care; go without the care they need or ask family members or friends to step in to provide that care.
Yet Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Government made it a priority to cut tax for those earning £150,000 or more per year. Labour has now pledged to reverse this tax cut for the wealthiest members of society.
We live in times when 500,000 people across the UK have had to visit foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. Many people have to decide between eating and heating their home, as they cannot afford to do both. Over 20,000 older people across the country die unnecessarily each winter due to the cold. All these facts suggest the Conservative-led Government had the wrong priorities when it gave a tax cut to the wealthiest earners.
People in Salford have suffered enough from rising prices, frozen wages, cuts and redundancies. It is time for a policy that tackles the deficit in a fair way. From 2015, a Labour Government will build an economy that works for working people and not just for the privileged few.