In his latest Tameside Reporter column, Denton's Labour MP Andrew Gwynne writes about the cost of living crisis, and the urgent need to build a secure and fairer economic future.
When people ask me what I’m most concerned about as an MP, I always say the same thing; the cost-of-living crisis. I have heard from too many constituents who are worried about putting food on the table and visited too many local food banks and community initiatives. Local people have done so much good, stepping up to help friends and neighbours, but the fact of the matter is something is going very wrong when people are simply not being paid enough to feed their families.
There are immediate steps that we can take to ease the cost-of-living crisis. Labour were the first to call for a windfall tax on large energy companies making massive profits to fund cost of living measures, and watched while the Government dithered and delayed (losing billions of pounds in the process) before finally giving in.
But something that’s frustrated me is a lack of overarching strategy from the Government to get our economy firing on all cylinders again. That’s why I was so glad to see Keir Starmer talking earlier this week about the next Labour Government’s priority being ‘growth, growth and growth’. Our economic growth is on track to stagnate, and we won’t be able to build a fairer and more prosperous future unless we address this.
Labour would invest £28bn-a-year to build a green economy, which would not only protect our energy independence, but also create well-paid jobs across the country. We would put industrial strategy at the forefront of our government and give small businesses the support they need to thrive.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the birth of what I’ve called ‘Destination Denton’. Local entrepreneurs have set up shop in the town centre, and there is now a fantastic selection of restaurants and independent businesses for local people to enjoy.
We should be doing everything we can to support this locally and nationally, and I want Government to do much more to recognise the importance of thriving independent businesses. For too long, Tameside hasn’t had a fair chance to contribute to an economy that is still dominated by London and the South East. This needs to change, and it's essential that we spread economic investment fairly across regions that have been ignored for far too long.
It’s easy to feel bleak about our economic prospects. But we have reached a turning point. We can either continue with more of the same, or we can make the most of the opportunities around us and build a future that is secure, fair, and prosperous.