Harlow Labour councillor questions Tories on cost of living crisis
Politics / Tue 11th Apr 2023 at 08:38am
A VETERAN councillor has questioned the Conservative-run Harlow Council on the cost-of-living for Harlow residents.
Councillor Kay Morrison to Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience):
This winter many Harlow residents were forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children. That we’re no longer shocked by that is shocking.
Parents skipped meals so that their children could eat. Food banks struggled to meet demand.
We prompted and questioned; we flagged up the need for the timely provision of Warm Banks. We encouraged the Administration to be proactive, rather than wait while need escalated.
How will you ensure that measures are in place for next winter, rather than left to the 11th hour?
Reply from Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience):
The Council’s priority during the winter was to make sure those people most in need received support. For a four-month period during the winter, the Council took the decision to do what it can to keep vulnerable residents warm. Spaces were provided at the Playhouse and the Latton Bush Centre for people struggling to make ends meet to come and stay for a few hours in a welcoming environment. On top of the warm spaces initiative, the Council launched a campaign to encourage those who were in financial difficulty to seek help.
It is important to recognise the role the Community Hub, that received Government funding that was allocated by Essex County Council, has taken to help people in need in the town. Rainbow Services, working in partnership with Mind in West Essex, Harlow Foodbank, Citizens Advice and the Volunteer Centre Harlow, continue to do all they can to help residents who have been hardest hit by cost of living pressures. The response by the Library Service and a number of voluntary sector organisations in the town to provide warm spaces ensured there were options every week for someone to seek a place to go if they were in need.
In preparation for next winter, the Council will take a decision in the late summer this year about whether or not to proceed with the warm spaces
initiative. This decision will be taken in collaboration, as was the case last winter, with the charitable and voluntary groups in the town who work closely with the Council to support those residents most in need. Energy costs and wider economic data at the time will also have a bearing on what decision is taken.
There cannot be any complacency on this issue, so Cllr Gunn and I recently met with the Harlow Poverty Alliance to discuss what steps can be taken to develop a wider action plan to deal with the impact of poverty in the town. Making sure nobody is left behind or forgotten in the town is something my colleagues and I care passionately about.
And the latest Spectator magazine, a favourite publication of the Tories, says the government do not have a plan to tackle inflation. Lions led by donkeys seems to sum up the situation.
I wonder if the current Conservative administration really do understand the need to be proactive when helping those in fuel and food poverty. I listened with interest to a Conservative MP state again that "those people need to get a better job" and the problem, "is theirs, not ours". I wonder if Mr. Halfon agrees with his colleague? But he voted for every measure in the recent budget and that just amplified the problems highlighted by Cllr. Morrison.
Gary Roberts is right about Tory slogan "get a better job". Tory Home Officer minister Rachel McLean said in May last year that "people could take on more hours or move to a better paid job" to cope with rising costs." See https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amp/entry/work-more-hours-or-get-a-better-job-minister-tells-struggling-voters_uk_6281f658e4b0c7c107753cb6/
And I forgot to mention Mr. Halfon and his disgusting governments' get out of jail phrase: That 2010 note in the Treasury about having no money left. Thirteen years on and it is still being used. But hopefully the electorate wont fall for it again!