I would like to wish all residents a Happy New Year for 2019 and hope they were able to spend time with their families over the Christmas break.
The break has given us all time to reflect and think of the challenges ahead of us.
While Brexit continues to dominate national politics, it remains clear that the Government is distracted from many of its core responsibilities and that a growing number of people are simply left behind in Britain today.
Street homelessness is clearly on the rise across London and for the first time in my memory is being witnessed in the area I represent in Belvedere.
While councillors are working with the relevant agencies to try and help individuals, all too often this is too late as the services which these residents have relied upon have been taken away after years of austerity.
The housing crisis remains the biggest issue facing the council with the council placing almost 1,400 house-holds in temporary accommodation and with about 2,000 Bexley children living in temporary accommodation.
We continue to see no firm action or lead taken by Bexley Tories to deliver social housing in the borough and without these homes, hardworking Bexley families continue to pick up the cost of the housing crisis and the temporary housing bill which has more than trebled in recent years.
Last year, Bexley’s food banks made more than 6,000 donations to local families – a six-fold increase over the past six years.
I was pleased to be able to support councillors, residents and Labour Party members from across Bexley last year to both volunteer and raise collections but it is unbelievable that we are in a position where working families are having to ask charities to feed them.
Residents who are interested in supporting Bexley Food Bank can find details on their website at: https://bexley.foodbank.org.uk/
Meanwhile, cuts imposed by the Tory Government since 2010 have meant that London councils have now lost 60p out of every £1 of core funding that the last Labour Government was spending on local authorities in 2010 and by 2020, funding to councils in London will have been cut in real terms by more than £4b – a cut of 63 per cent in a decade.
Local government has borne the brunt of austerity more than any other area of Government spending and the evidence is that this is having a real effect of the well-being of our residents.
Along with colleagues, I will be using 2019 to fight to ensure that real support is given to those families in need of housing and other assistance and who have found themselves left behind after almost nine years of austerity.