Living Standards

Under David Cameron, the cost of many everyday essentials has soared and pay has stagnated. This has left families facing a cost-of-living crisis.

On Teesside and across the UK today, too many people do a hard day’s work but are still living in poverty or dependent on in-work benefits. 

She recently met a young woman in Thornaby who is a home care worker on a zero hours contract. She has no idea from one week to the next whether she will earn any money; she cannot plan or budget and struggles to make ends meet. This sort of job insecurity, which the Tories have done nothing to tackle, is putting an unnecessary strain on family life. It’s not the way Britain should be competing in the 21st Century.

Labour will raise living standards for working families by making sure hard work is rewarded, giving more support to working parents and ending rip-off prices on energy, transport and renting.

We will make sure hard work is fairly rewarded

  • We will increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019 to help ensure that those doing a hard day’s work are rewarded for doing so. This will boost pay for 76,200 low paid jobs in the North East.
  • We will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts so that anyone working regular hours for more than 12 weeks will get a right to a regular contract. This sort of job insecurity creates an unnecessary strain on family life.
  • We will promote the Living Wage by giving a tax rebate to companies that sign up to become Living Wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament. We will also require listed companies to report on whether or not they pay the Living Wage, and we will use government procurement to encourage employers to pay it, following the lead of Labour councils across the country.

We will end rip-off prices for utilities, transport and renting

  • We will freeze energy bills until 2017, ensuring that bills can fall but not rise, and we will give the regulator the power to cut bills this winter.
  • Rail fares will be frozen next year to help commuters while we implement reforms. A strict cap will be introduced on every route for any future fare rises and a new legal right for passengers will be created to access the cheapest ticket for their journey.
  • We will give renters a fair deal by putting a ceiling on excessive rent rises and make stable three-year tenancies the rule, not the exception. We will also ban rip-off letting fees.
  • We will create a tough new energy watchdog to enforce our reforms. It will have the power to strip energy companies of their licences if they repeatedly harm the interests of consumers, and will also be responsible for protecting off-grid households.
  • We will make homes more energy efficient to bring down energy bills. We will do this by delivering a million interest-free loans for energy home improvements in the next Parliament.
  • We will make 200,000 homes warm every year for those on low incomes, delivered street-by-street by local authorities and community organisations.
  • We will require private rented properties to meet a decency standard, bringing warmth to a further three million homes.
  • We will require water companies to sign up to a new national affordability scheme, helping those who cannot afford to pay their water bills.
  • We will strengthen the powers of Ofwat — the regulator of the water sector — to change licenses, limit price rises and enforce industry standards.
  • We will simplify energy tariffs and make it easier for people to compare prices and get the best deal.

We will provide more support for working parents

  • We will expand free childcare from 15 to 25 hours per week for parents of three- and four-year-olds, paid for with an increase in the bank levy.
  • We will introduce a legal guarantee of access to wraparound childcare for parents of primary school children. Childcare will run from 8am to 6pm and be provided by the local primary school.
  • We will double paid paternity leave, extending its length from two to four weeks and ensuring more families can take up their entitlement by increasing the level of paternity pay from £140 to more than £260 a week.

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