Inflation is now at 5.5% and continues to outpace wages and benefits.

Britain needs a pay rise. Benefits and public sector wages have been frozen by the Tories for many years over the past 12 years and the rises that are coming through now are just not enough to make up the lost ground. Living standards have gone backwards under the Tories yet they shrug their shoulders at fraudulent Covid claims of £4.3bn and the waste of £8.5bn on useless PPE and all the while their donors and mates make millions out of the taxpayer.

The poor and low paid are getting poorer by the day. Fuel bills are rising and about to soar by 54% in April. Food prices are going up and the only outcome for middle income workers, for the low paid and those who rely on benefits, be they in work or out of work, is tougher times on top of already tough times.

One indicator is in the recent claimant count figures which reveal that in Middlesbrough the number of people claiming benefits stands at 5,390 which is 8.7% of the working age population whereas the UK rate is 4.3%. That’s just one of the indicators showing the glaring inequalities in our country. We are the most unequal economy in Europe and that means grinding poverty for many families in towns like mine. So much for levelling up! That’s just another lie.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We could have a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies like Shell and BP who have just reported eyewatering profits running into many billions of pounds. They’ve profited massively out of rocketing energy prices and a windfall tax would produce £1.2bn that could help reduce the impact of rising bills for consumers. We could also have a fairer tax system where the wealthiest pay more than they currently pay so that lower income families pay less and have more money to put food on the table. These are political choices, and the Tories are making all the wrong ones.


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