As we enter the New Year, it's often a period of setting goals and a time to look forward. But for many locally, January will be a difficult month with the pressures of the cost of living, rising bills and falling wages being felt acutely.

Around one million people across the UK worked over Christmas Day, with many more doing the same over New Year, keeping our vital services kept running.

Everyone from cleaners to carers, prison staff to petrol station attendants, to all our emergency service workers and military service personnel overseas; we give our thanks.

Often as well as spending these important days away from their families and friends, these workers are also forced to go without thanks on pay day.

In the last 13 years, the rest of those dedicating their time to our vital services we depend on over the festive period have seen real wages fall.

Doctors’ real terms wages are down by an average of 16 percent since 2010, nurses have seen their pay decrease by 20 percent since 2010, paramedics saw a decrease of 2.8 percent, whilst police officers saw a 13 percent fall. Aside from this, people in many different roles have seen the money they take home shrinking further and further.

The cost of living has continued to rise, not least thanks to this Governments disastrous mini budget. Lloyds Bank have found that the average deposit, the average house price, and the average cost of a new house for first time buyers have all increased significantly over the past year in Barnsley, with mortgage payments on average up £1,500 a year locally.

The reality of falling wages and rising bills is that many people were subject to huge energy bills that they simply could not manage. Parents reported skipping meals so that children could eat, people were freezing in cold homes with the heating off, and lots of people experiencing financial stress and anxiety.

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Barnsley Foodbank reported that they have seen 46 percent rise in children requiring food parcels across the borough. Any child requiring a foodbank to eat is too many, but this is a truly heart-breaking figure.

Over 17 percent of households in Barnsley are now considered to be in fuel poverty, which is over four percent higher than the national average. This means that more people in Barnsley than across the country are unable to heat their homes.

Labour would do things differently. This would include:

  • Restore economic stability and secure our economy.

  • Cut your energy bill for good – making families up to £1,400 better off a year.

  • Create 500,000 new, skilled jobs in the industries of the future, rebuilding the strength of our industrial heartlands.

In a year where we will see a General Election, the question for many people is do they feel better off than they did 13 years ago? The answer for most is no.