Tony Lloyd MP: ‘Warm words of thanks don’t pay bills, decent pay does’

A big week in Parliament with the Chancellor’s spending review and by the time you’re reading this we’ll know the post-lockdown decision for Rochdale. I can only believe we’ll still be in the highest Tier.

People in Rochdale have put up with an awful lot, but some people have put in effort way above the call of duty which is why Chancellor Rishi Sunak is massively unfair when he denies public sector workers a decent pay rise. No one begrudges health service workers a pay increase but carers in our care homes are entitled to feel betrayed when they’re told that they’ll get nothing. Care workers went to work without proper equipment to safeguard them and care homes have suffered more than many other workplaces.

Ironically low pay makes it difficult to fill these caring roles. And why aren’t our police officers, our fire and rescue workers recognised for the role they’ve all played? Warm words of thanks don’t pay bills, decent pay does.

I could go on about the Chancellor’s statement, he scarcely mentioned the Climate Emergency, yet again no certainty about the electrification of our rail system in the North, often promised but not a spade has hit the ground, investment monies for Rochdale’s Town Centre and many more of the things we were told would “level up” the country with investment in the North.

Many of us accept that keeping us in the top Covid Tier may still be the only way to keep the infection levels on a downward path and help our NHS to cope with Covid, to cope with flu and do all the other things we want it to do. Many of you are sticking strictly to the framework of wearing masks, keeping your distance and regular hand washing.

 But by now we should have had the Test, Track and Trace system we’ve so long been promised by PM Johnson. We’re still waiting and that’s a scandal. And we need support for Northern business if we’re going to have jobs at the end of this.

Spare a thought for those people like a local business owner who has received almost no financial support from the government whilst she can’t open her business. It can’t be one rule for the Government’s cronies who’ve made a killing out of the crisis whilst public sector workers, small business people and the whole of the North are left to pick up the tab.

This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 28 November 2020.