Gordon Matheson is proud that Glasgow Labour has protected the Affordable Warmth Dividend and is still delivering on fair pay and affordable housing in the face of huge cuts to the city’s budget.
This winter, Glasgow Labour will continue to put our values into action and protect thousands of elderly Glaswegians with the £100 Affordable Warmth Dividend.
When the temperature drops, it is the elderly who are most at risk. Even in relatively mild winters, there is an estimated 8,000 extra deaths for every one degree drop in average temperature.
That is why in 2011, when the Tory government decided to snatch £100 from the annual Winter Fuel Allowance payment, we stepped up and ensured that no elderly Glaswegian had to make the impossible choice between eating a proper meal and heating their home.
Since the inception of Glasgow’s Affordable Warmth Dividend some 44,000 payments have been made. This year alone, fifteen hundred residents will qualify for the first time.
The Affordable Warmth Dividend is a clear demonstration of our Labour values and a statement of our priorities that we have pledged to protect this payment for the entire length of my administration.
And for each of the last four years, despite disproportionate cuts to our city’s budget, Glasgow Labour have put our elderly population first and protect what has become a lifeline to many in our communities.
You do not have to look far into Glasgow’s past to see health problems that were exacerbated by living in cold or damp housing. It is intolerable that across a country as rich, innovative and compassionate as Scotland, almost a third of all households are fuel poor, spending over 10% on their most basic of needs.
The need for the Dividend speaks to a larger problem that even as Scotland’s largest local authority, we accept that we cannot solve alone.
The causes of poverty are complex, the solutions are multi-faceted; but poverty is man-made and only continues while we as a society are prepared to tolerate it before consigning it to the history books.
So while we are tackling poverty in Glasgow, far too many children and families won’t have a particularly Happy Christmas this year because of the effects of poverty. I believe that hurts and shames us all.
That is why Glasgow Labour has clearly stated our intention to put the full resource of the City into doing just that. Paying a living wage to all Council staff and putting it front and centre of our procurement strategy.
Using the opportunities brought by the City Deal and the Commonwealth Games to create employment opportunities for young people, affordable homes and to regenerate communities in which our citizens want to live, work, study and raise their children to do the same.
The Affordable Warmth Dividend is a policy of which we are very proud of and an argument which we have won.
Our policy now has cross party support in Glasgow and has been held up nationally as an example of how we can better treat those who toiled before us in order to create the opportunities we now enjoy.