Across the board, public sector workers have worked tirelessly on the front line. They have led the fight against covid-19, working long hours, dealing with stressful conditions and even putting their own lives on the line for local residents.
That’s why we were so disappointed to see the Chancellor in his last spending review announce a pay freeze for public sector workers – which in real terms amounts to a pay cut after inflation.
This is because the cost of living increases while wages fall behind. If rent, food and energy costs are rising while wages are frozen, workers lose out.
We can’t just keep the same size cake and cut it into even smaller slices. We must urge the government to make the cake bigger and to fund our local authorities properly.
At the recent Policy and Resources Committee meeting, Labour won support from the Green Party to write to the Chancellor, highlighting the work and efforts of council staff in response to the pandemic and urging the government to lift the public sector pay freeze.
Unfortunately, this was without the backing of Conservative councillors. We keep hearing from the Conservatives about their support for public sector workers but these essential workers need more than warm words and applause on the doorstep – they need money to live on.
It was disappointing to see our Conservative colleagues turn down another opportunity to back up their words with action.
Recognising that many people are struggling, I’m really glad we were able to change council policy to ensure every single person entitled to council tax reduction in the city will receive it.
Our proposal lowered the minimum amount that can be awarded by the council tax reduction (CTR) scheme from £5 a week to 1p a week.
This will help about 370 extra households to receive not only a council tax discount but also discounts for other services.
If you are unsure what benefits you may be eligible for, or if you are having difficulties claiming benefits, you can find the details of debt advice services like Citizens Advice and Money Advice Plus who can help you, on the council website.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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