Politcally Speaking in the Wakefield Express

“Are you any better off than you were three years ago?” The rising cost of living has been the hot topic at Labour’s Annual Conference in Brighton this week. I know from public meetings in our area locally how strongly people in our area feel about it. Energy bills come up every time. And for families with small children, on top of the usual household bills, thousands are struggling with increasing childcare costs too.

And they’re all right to raise their concerns. Prices have gone up faster than wages in 38 of the last 39 months, leaving working families, trying to do the right thing, much worse off. So this week Labour has set out our plans to tackle the problem. These are difficult times in the economy which means difficult choices. But it’s right that we switch resources and make choices to give a bit of extra support to working families and pensioners who’ve been struggling so much with the rising cost of living.

For working parents, big increases in childcare costs are a huge problem. One local mum from Stanley told me recently, even with her and her husband working, there’s still been little left over for extras, like a family holiday. Over half of those who completed my families’ survey over the summer spend more than £100 a week on childcare costs each month. A third of them spend more on childcare than on their rent or mortgage. It’s not right that after childcare costs, going to work doesn’t add up.

On Monday I took to the stage in Brighton to announce that Labour would take action on the cost of childcare. For families where all parents are in work, the next Labour Government will increase free childcare places for 3 and 4 years olds from 15 hours to 25 hours a week. The extra childcare will be paid for by increasing the Government’s bank levy to raise an extra £800 million a year.

And on Tuesday, Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband announced plans to do reform the energy sector. So many local people have raised their concerns about this with me in recent months. And Ed also announced plans to freeze consumer energy bills to ease the squeeze on people’s standard of living.

By helping parents who want to go back to work and putting a bit more money in the pockets of families and pensioners by saving them money on their fuel bills, we will support the economy to grow and work for everybody and get the deficit down in a fairer way.

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Posted September 27th, 2013 by Ed