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Council continues to provide financial support to ‘most vulnerable’ residents

Cabinet councillors at Eastbourne Borough Council have recommended that council tax support for people on the lowest incomes continues for the next financial year. 

Their approval to extend the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) for 2023/24, subject to Full Council adoption, in the latest in a raft of council measures to help local residents through the cost of living crisis. 

The CTRS provides financial support to around 4,000 of the most disadvantaged people of working age.

Cabinet councillors have also recommended the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, for those receiving CTRS support and experiencing extreme hardship, continues for the next financial year. 

Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, Cabinet Member for Direct Assistance Services, said: “When we became the first town in the country to declare a cost of living emergency back in May, it was clear to us that many residents would be hit by severe hardship this winter and since then we have undertaken a series of initiatives to help as much as we can. 

“I am very pleased at today’s decisions that cement our principle of protecting the most vulnerable in our community.” 

The council has set up various other initiatives to help people through the cost of living crisis, including: 

  • Launching a £250,000 Cost of Living Crisis Fund in May, including an immediate payment of £20,000 to Eastbourne Foodbank.
  • Setting up a cross-departmental Cost of Living Working Group that has been meeting monthly since July to oversee work to help people who are struggling. This has also led to the formation of a new action group focussed on increasing benefit uptake across the town.
  • Hosting a well-attended Household Support Fund (HSF) uptake day for local pensioners at the Town Hall in September. 
  • The two latest editions of Tenants Open Voice were filled with advice on energy saving, food support and grants available. 
  • Grants have been given to 19 Warm Space schemes which offer safe, warm places for people to gather and enjoy a hot drink. For full listings of these visit lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/warmspaces 
  • Additionally, £130,000 has so far been awarded to local initiatives including specialist money and homelessness advice, new and existing community fridges and help for schools to support struggling families. 
  • More than 220 Discretionary Housing Payment awards have been made to people who are eligible and potentially facing eviction. 

Councillor David Tutt, Leader of the Council, said: “We have made it a priority to support residents in need through this cost of living crisis which is why it is particularly hard to stomach that the government cut the budget for Discretionary Housing Payments by £100,000 this year. 

“This fund is now exhausted at a time when demand is as high as ever, so we have written to the government urgently requesting it provides money for this scheme so we can continue helping local people experiencing tough times and potential eviction.”

December 15, 2022