Labour Councillor Gary Wilkinson wrote recently in Brighton & Hove News about the proposals to address the cost-of-living crisis Labour brought to Full Council last month:
The recent Conservative mini-budget will go down in history as the day that the British government chose to sabotage their own economy.
The government set our economy ablaze and, as a direct result, in recent weeks we have experienced the worst financial chaos.
This Conservative government has wrecked people’s finances and our public services are in a fragile state.
Local authorities provide valuable resources and frontline services out in our communities but they are being decimated yet again by this government.
The task facing our public sector key workers is as difficult now as it was at the start of the pandemic.
There is no escaping the link between government policy and its impact on our Brighton and Hove residents, already suffering a cost-of-living crisis.
As we head into the winter months and beyond, many residents in our city are staring down the barrel of true hardship.
I have received emails and calls from people who have never before been moved to contact their councillor and who are now feeling cost of living concerns for themselves.
When those who have felt relatively comfortable start feeling the pinch, imagine what it means for those on the rungs of the ladder below.
Then imagine what it means for those who were not getting by at all, who were already suffering.
It is clear that the cost-of-living crisis is spiralling out of control. Labour realises that this is not a crisis but an emergency, one that will affect all our residents – from the most vulnerable to homeowners and renters, pensioners and businesses.
People are struggling and they are scared. Mortgages are up, energy bills are up, the weekly shop bill is up and rents are up, while wages, benefits and pensions are down.
And family financial problems are never just temporary cash problems. The traumatic mental and emotional pressures leave lasting damage, and they hinder children’s life chances.
It is vital we acknowledge our role as a council in the challenges we are facing here in the Brighton and Hove.
Every person in every part of or city will be affected in some way or another. The negative impacts of the rise in the cost of living are on a par with the pandemic and, consequently, require a pandemic level of response.
Just as Labour previously declared a climate emergency in the city, I asked the council last week to declare a “cost of living emergency” and develop plans for a formal emergency response.
I am pleased that it has finally agreed to do so. Labour are not prepared to stand idle as more and more of our residents are exposed to hardship.
We need a council that is truly committed to protecting our city during this cost-of-living emergency and rebuilding our broken basic services.
We need a council that is willing to listen to our residents and lead in the city’s interest.
And we need a council whose cost-of-living plans are robust and with strong leadership.
Never has this been more needed.
Cllr Gary Wilkinson
Originally published in Brighton & Hove News on 29 October 2022