April 2022: News from the Metro Mayor

April 06 2022

Warm words won’t fix the cost-of-living crisis

EVERY month it seems to be getting worse. Gas and electric bills are up and for everyone who uses heating oil, that’s off the scale too. It’s rocketed 116 per cent.

I expect you, like me, are looking at your smart meter thinking it didn’t used to be like that a few months ago – and as for petrol…

Every month we also hear the Chancellor commenting. He is normally saying how he understands that life is tough for working families and pensioners. Really? Because as March turns to April and the cost of living crisis bites, and everything from the price of a stamp goes up, the Government has chosen this moment to deliberately introduce a series of measures that will make this crisis much, much worse.

They say April is the cruellest month, and this spring the Chancellor will again force up taxes, painfully whacking up National Insurance contributions. He’s chosen a tax on workers’ income, not any of the other options like buying and selling property portfolios or stocks and shares.

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom on the economic front. There are plenty of great job vacancies in the region – many with good pay and prospects. One project I was excited to launch recently was aimed at West of England jobseekers in our burgeoning hospitality sector.

Jobs Connect was commissioned by the West of England Combined Authority that I lead, and built by Bath-based software company Cognisess. It will connect local people to jobs with top hospitality and tourism employers in the region.

Jobs Connect is a bit like a dating agency for jobs. Job seekers and businesses upload their profiles and the website plays matchmaker.

Individuals can do personality tests to figure out their compatibility, and there are top tips to make sure you put your best side forward and stand out from the crowd.

In the forthcoming months I hope to expand this scheme as well as launch more skills support and set up a good employers’ charter.

We can’t change Government policy – well not until the next General Election – nor can we change food prices locally. But we can make sure more people can get better paid jobs and opportunities. Warm words won’t solve the cost-of-living crisis.