Each week I encounter new evidence relating to the impact of the Government’s austerity measures. It really is an understatement to say that thousands of people are suffering. This week I met with officers from the NSPCC (The National Society to Prevent Cruelty to Children) and I was saddened to learn that there are around 500,000 victims of child abuse and neglect who do not get the help and support that they urgently need to enable them to overcome the traumas that they have experienced in their short lives. I will be supporting the Its Time Campaign that aims to get the Government to target some NHS funding to tackle this issue.
I welcomed the Government’s introduction the New National Living Wage at the beginning of this month not least because I know that 19% of all the people in work in Burnley and Padiham benefitted. My two main concerns were then: firstly that this is not actually a Living Wage but is a renaming of the Minimum Wage. All increases in pay for those on the lowest incomes are of course a good thing but it is important to note that £7.20 an hour is not enough to live on. I will continue to campaign for a Real Living Wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. My second concern was that the new wage is not paid to the under 25s. I can see no justification for this. Surely pay should be based on a person’s ability to do a job and has nothing to do with their age. One recent additional concern that has come to light Is that some employers have cut workers hours and in work benefits such as paid tea breaks, holiday pay and pay for unsocial hours . In such cases workers are actually worse off. There is no excuse for this as all small companies are to have their business rates cut and large companies will all benefit from new low levels of Corporation Tax. I raised this matter in parliament and the Government agreed with me but still refuses to legislate to stop this happening. As a former employer I always valued my staff and was proud to pay a real living wage. It is also clear that if local people earn more, their increased spending power will have a beneficial effect on local shops and businesses.
The fight to protect our bus services following Government funding reductions continues and on Thursday I held further site meetings with the management of bus company, Transdev. I pointed out some gaps in provision that are causing serious inconvenience particularly, for old people and the Managing Director has agreed to revisit the plans.