Tackling Everyday Poverty in Reading West

The cost of maintaining our current standard of living is going up (and) or our standard of living is going down. For the majority of people, wages are either not going up at all or they are going up less than food and fuel. A scary proportion of people are struggling to keep the same roof over their heads which they could afford five years ago. (See here for some reasons why, or visit www.positivemoney.com)

The only reason I am currently living in Dubai is so that my family can try and clear our debts and make it though until my son goes to school without loosing our home.   I still work for the same company (Foster Wheeler, based in Reading), but I needed the tax-free salary uplift of an overseas assignment to prevent our flat being repossessed. It is tough living apart from my husband and all our friends and family, especially for our toddlers, but not as hard as loosing our home would have been.  And at least we had that choice.

Most people in a similar circumstance are not so lucky. This is why I want to help alleviate the cost of living “squeeze” so many of us are feeling, from the poorest in our community to the genuinely “squeezed middle”, and I’m making this my TOP PRIORITY.  (“Squeeze” must have been coined by someone who hasn’t been there! It sounds like a bit of a hug, not the gut-wrenching daily anxiety of choosing which bills to pay and which can wait until next week or month when there might be fewer other bills or more days’ work available).

There are changes which need to be made for the long term, like making housing more affordable and reducing energy bills (both perfectly possible, contrary to popular propaganda), but many people also urgently need short term solutions. These need to be smart, and they need to be fair.

Something like; a temporary hardship grant for 12 months would be much cheaper for the government than waiting for that family to be repossessed and then to put them up in private rented accommodation while they wait for housing association accommodation (not to mention better for the family!). Then the challenge is to ensure the right money goes to the right people and that those people are helped to get back on their feet, not hindered from making a new start by having to report in to a time wasting programme every day.

But this is just one idea. If you have other ideas, or ways to improve or implement this one, then please post below or e-mail me at SuzieFerguson4MP@gmail.com. What would work for you to make the difference making ends meet? For me; if there had been liveable maternity pay at my company we wouldn’t be servicing so much debt, or if childcare costs and student loan repayments were tax-deductible, or if subsidised childcare were available from 3 months of age not just over 3s and those already on other benefits. Any of these would have made the difference and would have cost the UK less than their lost tax income for the 18 months I’ll have been in Dubai.

What would help you? Please comment below. If you can spare a little more time, please share this and talk to your friends, family and colleagues, about what might help you and them? Do you have any bright ideas how this could be funded in Reading West independently of central government so that we could aim to implement it straight away (if I were elected), and show the rest of the country that it can be done.


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