Rishi Sunak will be judged by his actions not his words | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

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Rishi Sunak became the first Prime Minister of British Asian heritage this week.

A significant moment in our history and one that makes you feel proud to be British. Sending a clear message that if you work hard and have the ability, you can aspire to fulfil your dreams no matter your race or religion.

However, this is not quite our 'Obama' moment. Rishi Sunak has been 'selected' by Conservative MPs and appointed the third Prime Minister in just as many months without a single vote cast.

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We have an unelected, privately educated billionaire as Prime Minister and many have been left wondering what they have in common with the wealthiest MP in the country.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab AnwarBurnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

The tabloid soap opera that is the Conservative party also looks set to continue. Many in the party are furious that they have had no say in the leadership contest, especially those members who backed Boris Johnson and now feel betrayed. As the fallout continues, those of us in local government remain focused on delivering for our residents.

Burnley and Padiham residents will be rightly concerned. This is someone so wealthy, that he didn't know how to fill his car with petrol and during his failed bid to become leader of the Conservative party was caught boasting about taking money from deprived areas like ours to pass on to wealthier parts of the country.

Rishi Sunak has promised to help the most vulnerable in a time of crisis and will be judged by his actions not his words. The early signs do not look positive.

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During PMQs Rishi Sunak repeatedly used the word 'compassionate' to describe the Conservative party. Yet has reappointed a Home Secretary whose 'dream' and 'obsession' it is to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Let's not forget she was forced to resign just six days ago from the same post, for breaching the ministerial code.

Additionally, the fiscal plan set for Halloween has been delayed and there is still no commitment to increase benefits in line with inflation or the Triple Lock on pensions, despite his predecessor's commitment just last week.

The reality is public services are bracing themselves for cuts as Liz Truss' growth plan is ripped up. Rising costs and inflation could also have devastating consequences for councils like ours.

Without government support there is very little we can do as a small council to help our residents. However, we have a duty to do what we can. That is why last night, Council Executive agreed to launch a public consultation on proposed changes to our Council Tax Support Scheme. We propose to increase the level of subsidy to 100% for eligible working age claimants for one year only, to help alleviate some of the financial hardship caused by the current national cost-of-living crisis.

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This will be a helping hand for those who are struggling to make ends meet and put money back in their pockets. This proposal would help some of the most vulnerable families in our borough and we feel it’s very much the right thing to do.