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19 May 2022

Eastwood: SDLP manifesto an ambitious programme to tackle cost of living crisis

Colum Eastwood

Colum Eastwood: "We will not stand by as people are forced to turn off the radiators, to sit at home in their winter coats, to cut back on food for their families"

Foyle MP, Colum Eastwood, insists the SDLP has “launched an ambitious programme for change” to tackle the cost of living crisis.

The SDLP leader was speaking at his party's manifesto launch for the 2022 Assembly Election in Dungannon this morning.

Forty pages long, the document outlines the party’s focus on addressing the cost of living crisis by providing direct support to every household, ensuring that working families receive more good quality childcare and that no child grows up in a household without savings.

Launching the manifesto in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency today, Mr Eastwood said: “The manifesto we have launched today is an ambitious programme for change that has at it’s heart a plan to tackle the biggest challenge facing every family, household and community in Northern Ireland today – the cost of living crisis.

“The emergency that hard working families are waking up to today, and every day, needs to be addressed with the same urgency and at the same scale that the Covid-19 crisis demanded.

“We will not stand by as people are forced to turn off the radiators, to sit at home in their winter coats, to cut back on food for their families while Stormont’s bank accounts bursts at the seams with hundreds of millions in unspent money. It is obscene.

“We’ll fight this crisis and put people first by getting an emergency support payment to every household worth at least £200.

“We will provide people who have been hit hardest by this crisis with up to £500 in direct payments. And we will make sure that no child goes hungry by getting more than £1200 to an average family with two children on free school meals between now and December.

“But the cost of living crisis needs more than just cash intervention. That’s why we are putting working parents first with a pledge to increase free pre-school childcare from 12.5 hours per week to 30 hours.

“We’ll end the injustice of children growing up in a household with no savings by creating a first-of-its-kind Children’s Future Fund that gives every child a £1000 investment in clean, green technologies that they can withdraw when they turn 18.

“We will also take tough political decisions to transform our society.

“Nowhere is that more important than for our health service which is at the point of collapse.

“That will mean change to how services are organised but, fundamentally, it will be about making sure that everyone can access a service that they need, when they need it.

“We will do that by investing £1 billion over the life of the next Assembly and making sure that our nurses get the pay rise they deserve.

“That's what this manifesto is about. It is a plan to tackle the cost of living emergency, to provide more free childcare, to invest in families and households that have no savings and to ensure that our government finally puts people first.”

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