COLUMN: Funding cuts, affordable homes and fairer pay

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November has been a very busy month for the Labour group here in Mansfield.

Across the district, councillors attended Armistice Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies, and I was honoured to lay a wreath at the Civic Centre on behalf of the Labour group. The poppy displays created by local people around the district were a beautiful and touching tribute.

We’ve also been campaigning for services that benefit the community, some of which are under threat due to government funding cuts.

Our NHS is vital, and I have attended public meetings held by the CCG to discuss the future of Chatsworth Ward. Patients and staff spoke with passion and pride about the importance of this ward, and the role it had played in helping them recover. There is a real passion for keeping this important local service.

Affordable homes matter, and there has been much talk recently about the council-owned housing company. Initially this was presented to us as a way of addressing housing need, building affordable homes, and bringing much needed funds into the council. However, I feel the current Mayor seems to have moved the goalposts on this, claiming the company was ‘never set up to build affordable homes’. In my July Chad column I asked the Mayor to clarify the company’s aims, but sadly she has not responded. Labour councillors have been pushing for more information about this company to be open to scrutiny, and will continue to do so.

Decent wages are key to improving our district. I was pleased to welcome the TUC into Mansfield last week as part of its Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign. Members brought a ballot box to gauge public opinion on whether it is time to pay workers more, and the people of Mansfield overwhelmingly agreed that it is.

Nationally, people are also being hit hard by the introduction of universal credit. Many people find themselves in rent arrears for the first time ever, and now we hear the news that some people will not be paid until after Christmas. This is frankly appalling and I hope the government will listen to calls to pause the roll out.