GP says 2021 Budget is a unique opportunity to start 20 year process of tackling social inequality worsened by coronavirus pandemic
Inequality in Leeds is a wound that has had a plaster on it for years - says a GP working in one of the most deprived areas in the city and the country.
Dr Amal Paul, a GP at Roundhay Road surgery in Harehills, said the coronavirus pandemic had ripped the plaster off and left people screaming.
Ahead of this year's Budget, which will be outlined on Wednesday, he urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to address the issues of inequality, which he says could take 20 years to resolve, and warned that if the government ignored it - people will not stop fighting for the cause.
The main issues he is seeing within his practice area are mental health struggles from teenagers to new mums, food poverty and the inability of people to pay bills and mortgages because they are on low income jobs, zero hours contracts, or, have been made redundant.
He calls for food vouchers to be introduced as pressure on foodbanks means more people are going without quality and nutritious food, the continuation of the furlough scheme to help people in the restaurant and hospitality sector which have been hit by COVID, which, in turn, had had a disproportionate effect on the BAME communities and relief on taxation as well as personal grants and child care benefits.
He said: "Mental health should be more direct, it is so here and there. It is not well structured and we struggle to refer young people into the system. It is really very frustrating. It (inequality) is a wound with a plaster that has been there for years, but that plaster has been taken off and we can see the wound,
"We saw people suffering from their own pain but did not prevent that. Now we are hearing the screams of the people. The pandemic has shown how much society has been neglecting these burning issues.
"People have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay mortgages and feed their children. The Budget is a unique opportunity to address the issues. It can't be done overnight, but if we start now, in 20 years time, the next generation will appreciate it.
"If we raise the issues, it can be done or not, if we keep repeating, one day they will listen but if we stop - nobody will listen."