Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (12th January 2015) backed the call by Labour leader Ed Miliband for a new Living Standards Index.
A national Living Standards Index monitored by independent officials will aim to gauge whether future governments are helping working people improve their lives. This new measure – which will be accorded equal status to gross domestic product (GDP) figures – will help to ensure that economic policy is geared to the everyday needs of families rather than to meeting growth targets on graphs. Under the plan, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility would be expected to monitor standards of living and issue forecasts in the same way it does for GDP.
“This might appear to be rather abstract, but in reality such a new index would be immensely important for Teesside. At the moment, the way current statistics are compiled – often from out-of-date figures – means coalition politicians can create the impression that all is well when, in fact, many people are struggling on the minimum wage, in zero contract jobs or eroding state benefits and pensions.
“On Teesside this is a big problem as Tees-wide statistics show relatively high earnings in UK wide terms. In reality, this is an illusion, with the earnings of a relatively small number of people in well paid jobs in areas like chemicals, mining or on offshore rigs distorting sub-regional statistics.
“As these statistics are key parts of the building block for central government grants for local councils, the police and the NHS, a fair and proper index would be a big boost for Teesside, as it would help create a fairer local society, and would be a big help for local people on low wages, young parents with children and the elderly. It’s something I will be backing 100 per cent.”