Yvette Cooper MP: Not working to live but working to survive

Round here, local groups are working hard to support each other.Round here, local groups are working hard to support each other.
Round here, local groups are working hard to support each other.
“We used to work to live. Now we work to survive.” Those were the words of a mum in Smawthorne on Saturday as we talked about the cost-of-living crisis hitting families across the Five Towns.

Yvette Cooper MP writes: In the government’s Autumn Statement last week, Conservative ministers wanted us to believe that everything was going well.

But the truth is that mortgages, rents, energy bills, prices and taxes are all still going up.

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At the same time the economy is really weak and growth has been downgraded yet again.

From Rishi Sunak’s helicopter everything may look fine. But back down to earth here in Yorkshire, people are really stretched.

On top of rising bills and prices, the Tories have now raised taxes 25 times since the last election.

Even after their latest promises on national insurance, households will still be around £4,000 worse off. Rishi Sunak is taking everyone for fools.

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He is taking thousands of pounds more from working people than expecting everyone to be grateful when he hands them a few hundred pounds back.

Round here, local groups are working hard to support each other. Airedale Baby Bank is running a Christmas appeal to get presents for local children.

The Community Shop in Knottingley, run by the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, is working to provide affordable food for families in town. And I’ve been out with Pontefract St Giles Food Share delivering affordable fresh food to families who have signed up.

But in the 2020s it’s just wrong that so many families are facing the squeeze.

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Our towns are still being let down too. The government announced the latest round of so-called “levelling up” grants. But Knottingley was left out yet again even though it meets all the criteria to qualify and has been one of the hardest hit areas by austerity.

I asked Wakefield Council to put forward a bid for town centre regeneration and new sports facilities that Knottingley badly needs. But ministers have turned their backs.

To get better wages, better public services and lower taxes, you have to have a growing economy. But instead over 13 years of Conservative government, the economy has ground to a halt.

There is no plan for apprenticeships and high skilled jobs, and ministers are still refusing to accept Labour's proposals for investment in the technologies and industries of the future. It’s time we had a proper industrial strategy for our country and that must include new investment in high skilled, high paid jobs here in Yorkshire.

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The big question for people is whether after 13 years of Conservative government you and your family feel better off, and whether you think our public services are better or worse. Most people I talk to say they feel worse off and feel like services are broken and that’s why we so badly need the changes Labour is calling for.

For families in our area to be just working to survive isn't good enough. It's time for a proper plan for economic growth, action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and to rebuild our public services. Our towns deserve better than this.

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