Politically Speaking: Making sure we get our fair share

Batley Job Centre could be closed
Batley Job Centre could be closed

The Government has announced Batley’s Job Centre is on the chopping block as part of plans to vastly reduce the number of Job Centres across the country.

These proposals are now under consultation and it’s my view the Government should think again. In today’s world of increasingly insecure work, unemployment is often just around the corner. It’s vital that if or when joblessness does occur, support, as well as access to benefits are available locally.

It’s a wonder how the Government will achieve its own target of more career and job advice from Job Centres for women over-40 while cutting centres.

If the plans are pushed through many job seekers will have to travel further to access necessary services.

We know that suddenly losing a job can be the difference between having a roof over your head or not, and putting food on your family’s table, or not.

When money is so tight we shouldn’t expect those looking for work to have to fork out for the bus to Dewsbury’s Job Centre. Ministers have said they’ll reimburse people for extra travel costs but wouldn’t it be better to keep services local?

On the topic of transport, this week I was interested to read a report from think-tank IPPR North that shows transport spending per head in Yorkshire is still towards the bottom of the pile.

Our region will receive £190 per person which is ten times less than London’s £1,943 and even pales in comparison to the North West which will have £682 per person spent on their transport over the next five years.

It appears the much spoken about ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is nothing but a mirage for us.

The amount spent on London not only shows where our Government’s priorities lie but serves as proof of how effective devolution can be when done properly. It’s high time decisions which affect the north were made in the north by people with our interests at heart, just like Londoners have now.

I’ve said before that transport spending is vital for economic growth and jobs – or in other words, a sufficient system would unlock the potential of areas like ours. With that in mind, I’m frustrated that so many of you are telling me that even getting to work in Leeds is a struggle.

That’s not good enough, so I set up a meeting with Northern Rail to discuss the problems and push for some solutions.

Northern Rail, to their credit, acknowledged many of the problems, they didn’t dispute the cancellations or overcrowded services.

However there’s only so much one rail operator can do, ultimately it comes down to the Government to decide where they spend our money.

Whether it’s the local Job Centre or our transport network, I’m doing all I can to make sure we get our fair share.