Last week the BBC was in Crawley filming one of Labour’s daily door-knocking sessions for their Sunday Politics show. Watching the programme I was astounded to hear the local Tory MEP claim that, “everyone in the south east is feeling the recovery”.
If he spent time listening to people on the doorstep he would quickly realise that his claim simply isn’t true. Every day we hear stories of how the cost of living crisis is affecting people here in Crawley: rail fare increases, escalating energy bills and rising rents. The cost of childcare has also been coming up more and more, one resident remarked to me that he now pays out more per month on childcare than on his mortgage.
The cost of childcare has risen 30% under David Cameron while wages have remained stagnant and Tory changes to tax credits have only made the problem worse. Families these days are faced with a dilemma, while a second income is increasingly needed to make ends meet if Mum or Dad do go back to work they end up losing much of what they’ve earned in order to cover childcare costs.
When we listen to parents on the doorstep in Crawley it’s clear that Labour’s plan to extend free childcare for working mums and dads with three and four year olds is something which will make a real difference to the cost of living for many families in the town.
Under Labour’s childcare proposals 71,950 three and four year olds in the South East would be eligible for the extra hours of free childcare, helping mums and dads back into work and to put food on their family’s table.
Labour would also introduce a primary childcare guarantee, helping working parents to manage the headache of organising before and after school care.
Politics should be about more than passing blame or arguments which go nowhere, it should be about listening and working to resolve the issues which affect people’s lives. Nationally and locally, Labour is working hard to find the solutions to the problems residents face and highlighting that Labour is a party which is on your side.
Cllr Chris Oxlade
Labour Ifield and Ifield West
PPC for Crawley
Crawley Observer column Wednesday 14th May