£750,000 funding for cost of living pressures

LEWES Council Chairmen are to make more funds available to help residents who are under pressure from the cost of living.

On Thursday (July 7) Lewes District Council Cabinet agreed to allocate a further £250,000 to measures to support those most affected by rising costs. The funding comes on top of the £500,000 cost-of-living reserve made available by the council earlier this year.

Of the new funding, £50,000 is set to go directly to local food banks, with the remainder going towards both a bursary scheme to be distributed this autumn and a new administrative officer.

In a statement released after the meeting, Council Chair Zoe Nicholson (Green) said: “As the cost of living soars, our local food banks are running very short of groceries at a time when people desperately need their help out, so it is important that we provide this financial support immediately.

“We are acutely aware of the real challenges facing people – especially those on the lowest incomes – and while the Council cannot solve all the problems that arise, we have been working to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable for some time.

“The Cost of Living Crisis Fund builds on these steps while also addressing the urgent needs of local food banks, along with a broader program to support fight against energy and food poverty, which, unfortunately, will only get worse as the year progresses.”

While funding was agreed, the decision saw some concerns from Conservative Group leader Isabelle Linington over what she described as a “lack of detail” in the proposals.

She said: “Of course we want to help people, but it’s ‘what’s the best way?’ You’ve already received the first £500,000, but we have no details on how you’ll spend it. And yet we’re poking another £200,000 in here, again without much detail.

“I think it would have been nice if you sort of clarified how you were going to spend the first amount of money before suddenly putting a second amount into it.

“It’s all very good, making big gestures and saying the government isn’t doing enough and we have to do things, but that’s how we’re going to do it and make sure it reaches the right people.”

Cllr Linington also questioned the need to hire an additional council officer to administer the new grants scheme, rather than using existing staff with experience of similar schemes.

The Conservative leader’s comments drew criticism from cabinet members, who argued the extra funding was intended to reflect the urgency of local needs.

Council deputy leader James MacCleary (Lib Dem) said: “The reality here is that this is an emergency response to an emergency situation. We know that what we ultimately need here is long-term support and structural change, because this is actually a crisis of such a magnitude that the numbers become almost meaningless because they are so big.

“We stand up and say, ‘We’re going to do what we can with the resources we have.’ But this is a county council, and that’s actually a pretty big commitment.

“We see, certainly where I live in Newhaven, people in crisis situations that are now so extreme that it’s offensive – in this country, in the modern world – that we see people getting into those situations.”

Cabinet members also said details of the initial £500,000 are expected to be announced in September. It was said that this would follow discussions involving all the Council’s political parties on how it should be distributed.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20266040.750k-funding-cost-living-pressures/?ref=rss £750,000 funding for cost of living pressures

Fry Electronics Team

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