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East Suffolk Council voices plans for cost of living crisis fund



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Plans have been voiced for a six-figure fund to be formed in East Suffolk to help families impacted by the cost of living crisis.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said a “comprehensive programme” is being developed that will feature both crisis support and longer term measures to support struggling homes.

The Conservative leader has asked for all 55 councillors, regardless of political affiliation, to divert £1,000 of their annual £7,500 enabling communities budget – funds used for specific projects in their communities – to go into a specific cost of living projects pot.

Plans have been voiced for a six-figure fund to be formed in East Suffolk to help families impacted by the cost of living crisis. Picture: East Suffolk District Council
Plans have been voiced for a six-figure fund to be formed in East Suffolk to help families impacted by the cost of living crisis. Picture: East Suffolk District Council

A bid of nearly £100,000 is then set to be made to the Community Partnership Board to bolster that fund.

Cllr Gallant said: “East Suffolk Council is developing a comprehensive programme of support for residents who are struggling due to the impact of rissing cost of living.

“We know that the cumulative impact of rising food and energy costs, a lifting of energy caps, rising housing costs and increasing diesel, petrol and heating oil prices is starting to have a real impact on people’s lives.

Conservative leader at East Suffolk Council, Steve Gallant. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL
Conservative leader at East Suffolk Council, Steve Gallant. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

“The programme we are building focuses on four key themes – money, food and essential items, energy and fuel, and housing.

“Each theme includes a mixture of crisis support and longer term projects to help people to maximise their income, manage debt and access the support that they need.

“We are working with key partners in the public and voluntary sector through the East Suffolk Community Partnership Board to ensure that we do not duplicate and that we maximise the impact of what we do.

“The emerging programme includes a wide range of activities to both support residents now and to help them to manage in the future.”

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour contingent at East Suffolk Council and councillor for Kirkley and Pakefield. Picture: MAXINE CLARKE/EAST SUFFOLK LABOUR
Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour contingent at East Suffolk Council and councillor for Kirkley and Pakefield. Picture: MAXINE CLARKE/EAST SUFFOLK LABOUR

Cllr Gallant said he recognised some councillors may have already allocated funds to projects in their communities, but said he hoped that all parties could come together to address the crisis.

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour group, said: “It is welcome news that the communities team at East Suffolk Council is stepping up its provision to help residents with the cost of living emergency where it can, and we will all be contributing money from our enabling communities budgets to support this effort.

“We understand the team will be looking at four significant areas where support may be available; money, food, energy and fuel, and housing and we particularly welcome the workshops now being held inside the council, with local charities and local councillors to ensure all voices are heard and there are no gaps in provision or duplication of effort.

“We are fully in favour of this holistic approach that will go some way in lessening the anxiety some local residents are already feeling and we look forward to some public announcements when this additional programme of help is available.”

Southwold Liberal Democrat councillor David Beavan. Picture: DAVID BEAVAN
Southwold Liberal Democrat councillor David Beavan. Picture: DAVID BEAVAN

David Beavan, leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, said his ward in Southwold was already running monthly advisory clinics to help people, and added: “If this is more than a political gimmick, I invite Cllr Gallant to send us the details and we will certainly consider it.

“We will not however be railroaded into this with threats of publishing lists of councillors who don’t contribute. Nor will we accept a permanent erosion of our £7,000 locality budgets that are so useful to the local community.”

Outgoing group leader Caroline Topping said her and fellow Beccles councillors have already committed cash to St Michael’s Church where meals are being supplied to children through the summer holidays every Wednesday, as well as the Thin Ice Project where money is placed behind the counter at two cafes to feed struggling families.

More details of East Suffolk Council’s programme are set to be announced in the near future, as well as indications of how big the pot will be.