‘It is clear only Labour has the vision and the drive to deliver’

Two things have dominated my conversations with people across our borough over the last few weeks.

People’s deep fear of how difficult this winter is going to be as we all see our bills rocket and their despair and outrage at how the Government have made it all so much worse.

Never has the contrast between our Labour led council and the Conservative led Government been starker.

On the one hand, here in Southwark we have been working flat out to put in place support for those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis. Setting up our £5 million Cost of Living Fund and a new Southwark Energy Savers service, and working with our partners in the voluntary sector to get advice and practical help to all who need it.  The collective determination of people across our community is always inspiring, and I want to thank everyone who is working so hard to get help to those who need it.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister and Chancellor announced their disastrous mini budget of unfunded giveaways for high earners, big business and bankers. Resulting in the value of the pound collapsing, the Bank of England having to race to save people’s pensions and the cost of people’s mortgages rocketing.  Even the Prime Minister’s own MPs have described this as “an unmitigated disaster”.

Worse still these new cuts break explicit promises the Conservative Party made to the British people.

In the run up to the last election they declared “austerity is over”.  Yet now in Southwark alone we face a £24 million shortfall to the council’s budget next year. We will keep doing everything we can to stretch each pound we have further, but with Government funding for the council already cut by two thirds; we are now left with no choice but to scale back vital services that local people depend on, and all to pay for the Tories’ mismanagement of our economy.

Another promise the Government look set to break is their pledge to put up benefits in line with inflation. A move that would tip 200,000 children into poverty.  It does not have to be this way.

The government say they want to grow our economy and grow wages, and on that we can agree.  But the evidence is clear, to get growth you need to invest.

If the Government really wanted growth they would be following our lead in Southwark. We’ve invested nearly £1million in the Southwark Construction Skills Centre, skilling up over 5,000 residents since it opened so they can get good jobs. We are investing £2 million in our Southwark Pioneers Fund to help local businesses start and grow. We’ve establish SC1 – London’s life science district – to scale up innovation, research and growth around our world leading hospitals; and we are backing the Bakerloo Line extension that would deliver over 2 million square feet of employment space, 20,000 new homes and 12,000 new jobs.

This is the approach to growth and prosperity that our whole country needs. It is clearer now more than ever that only Labour has the vision and the drive to deliver it.