YORK’S council leader has vowed to provide more housing in 2013 and to help those worst-hit by the economic crisis.

James Alexander said 2012 had been tough for many families and benefit cuts in April could make matters worse, and backed claims that the North was disproportionately affected.

He said: “It is for that reason I will redouble the efforts of the council and its partners to tackle poverty and inequality in York in 2013.”

He said the council would build on the work done by the Fairness Commission in 2012 and fight to create jobs and to ease the city’s housing crisis.

“My focus on creating jobs and growing the economy will and must remain a council priority,” Coun Alexander said. “The most important way to tackle poverty is to ensure that people have access to jobs and I will create an environment in this city where business can continue to prosper. We will increase the provision of housing and particularly affordable housing in 2013.”

He said the council would introduce the living wage and work with companies to encourage them to do likewise, and would also try to drive down living costs through energy switching and support. He also said the council’s new HQ would make it easier for residents to access advice.

Coun Alexander also hailed the York800 festivities, the Queen’s visit, the Olympic and Paralympic celebrations and Mystery Plays and the approval of planning permission for a new stadium and shops at Monks Cross.

He said York had been “one of the most beautiful, friendly and proud places to live in the UK, but also one with strong opinions on fairness and equality”. He said 2012 was a difficult year for many families and households due to rising fuel and food bills and the high cost of buying or renting property in York.

“With escalating costs of living and little if any growth in wages for those in employment, too many of our residents are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.