Ilford Recorder Column 29 August 2013

There has been a big increase in desperate people contacting me with problems related to housing, employment and social security benefits. Changes brought in by the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat government including the bedroom tax and benefit caps are already having a serious impact on many poor and vulnerable people.  Registered unemployment may be slightly down but the real story of the labour market is a living standards crisis with  falling real wages, and millions working harder for less. For ordinary families things are getting harder not easier.  Youth unemployment is edging back towards a million, long-term unemployment is at its highest level for 17 years, and more than 1 in 10 people in jobs say they want to work longer hours.  The  flagship Work Programme has not hit any of its minimum performance standards.  David Cameron says he’s fixed the economy but borrowing continues to be way off track. Instead of the expected monthly surplus Government borrowing increased with public finances £1.3bn worse this July than last. George Osborne is borrowing billions more than planned to pay for the costs of his economic failure.  His promise to balance the books by 2015 is now in tatters. This Government has presided over the lowest level of homes built than any other peacetime Government since the 1920s.   Failure to build sufficient housing means home ownership will remain out of reach of low and middle income earners, rents will continue to soar and waiting lists grow ever longer. If the £10 billion infrastructure boost recommended by the International Monetary Fund was spent on housing, we could build 400,000 affordable homes and support 600,000 jobs and apprenticeships. That's the way to get people back to work, sort out the housing crisis, cut housing benefit rent payments and strengthen our economy for the long term.

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