The challenge we face
Responding to the pandemic:
- COVID-19 continues to present the country with its biggest challenge for generations.
- Locally, Labour is leading the way in working with public sector partners and communities to protect lives and control the virus.
- Leading the Council, we have ensured that financial support is distributed to communities and businesses, we have supported people who are shielding, protected residents in care homes, kept vital services running and played an important role in the coordination of community and voluntary action.
- Labour Member’s of Parliament have been supporting residents with Covid-related issues too, whilst helping local businesses to access grant support and resolving complex local issues throughout successive lockdowns.
Local financial pressures:
- The graph below illustrates the overall funding gap that the Council has had to bridge since 2015.
- As a result of austerity and the poor economic policies of a decade of Conservative governments, more and more people are needing help, which is pushing costs up, whilst at the same time, the funding from government continues to decline.
- The graph also shows that the increasing costs as a result of increased demand for services cannot be met, despite local Council Tax increases.
The national economic context:
- The economic, social and financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and over a decade of Conservative Government austerity are self-evident.
- During the pandemic, the borough has experienced a doubling of unemployment, a surge in businesses needing support, and the level of redundancies over the coming months and years is likely to be high.
- Our declaration of a local poverty emergency in October 2020 highlighted the impact of long-term poverty on Cheshire West residents and recognised that those with the lowest incomes have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- Increasingly the pandemic itself is directly pushing more households into financial hardship.
- There has been a 57% increase in the number of people approaching local homeless services for help.
- More specialist support has been requested to help keep vulnerable children safe and well.
- The impact on mental wellbeing for children and adults has been a major concern.
- A decade of austerity, followed by a global pandemic has decimated public sector budgets, which means the costs of meeting the challenges for the NHS, police, councils and other services has exceeded the financial support received from the Conservative Government in Westminster.
Building new relationships and working together:
- Communities supporting each other is part of the Labour tradition and we will work hard to support and maintain new networks that have been created during the pandemic.
- Labour councillors and Labour Members of Parliament have been at the heart of their communities, supporting the most vulnerable through successive lockdowns.
- Relationships with voluntary organisations, the Council and MP’s offices have been strengthened in the face of adversity.
- Working with schools to maintain education provision and providing IT equipment where it is needed has stopped some children from falling behind with their work.
- Working with care providers to protect elderly residents and support adults with severe disabilities has helped vulnerable people to stay safe.
- Relationships between a broad range of public organisations have strengthened too, with joined up care and a more coordinated approach to supporting people with complex needs.
- Relationships with businesses have also grown stronger and it’s clear that the economy will need support to recover.
Labour’s plan for HOPE: Our priorities are your priorities:
Through listening to residents, business, and community organisations, we have developed four clear priorities for our Borough as we look to a future beyond Covid-19. Your priorities are our priorities, and we will deliver our plan for HOPE through Labour’s leadership of Cheshire West and Chester Council, and in partnership with Labour Members of Parliament in Chester, Ellesmere Port & Neston and Weaver Vale. These priorities include:
- Putting families first:
- Supporting children and young people to have the best start in life
- Enabling more adults to live longer, happier and healthier lives
- Having a job you enjoy and feeling financially secure:
- Building an economy that works for everyone by delivering good jobs with fair wages for residents
- Creating a fairer future by tackling the poverty emergency
- Being proud of where you live and feeling involved in what’s going on:
- Re-modelling town centres and supporting local high streets so they are places where local residents are proud to be and places people want to live, work, learn and visit
- Making our neighbourhoods even better places to call home
- Looking out for each other
- Growing a greener future by tackling the climate emergency
- Supporting good mental health