Lewes District Council is providing an extra £250,000 for people on low incomes who are struggling to make ends meet as energy and food costs soar, bringing council funding to combat the cost of living crisis to £750,000.
Earlier this year, the council set aside £500,000 to support help local people and families as costs began to rise, with £150,000 of this money ring fenced for council tenants.
Cabinet councillors additionally agreed a new £250,000 Cost of Living Crisis Fund, with the first £50,000 immediately being awarded to foodbanks to help meet the unprecedentedly high levels of need in the district now. The remaining £200,000 will be distributed through a grants programme in the autumn and fund the creation of a dedicated officer to coordinate the funding.
Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Finance and Assets, said: “As living costs spiral, our local foodbanks are running very short of food at a time when people desperately need their assistance, so it’s crucial we give this financial support right away.
“We are keenly aware of the real challenges people are facing – especially those with the lowest incomes - and although the council cannot resolve all the problems being experienced, for some time we have been working to help alleviate hardship for those who are worst off.
“The Cost of Living Crisis Fund announced today builds on those steps while tackling the urgent needs of local foodbanks, alongside a wider programme of support to deal with fuel and food poverty which will unfortunately only worsen as the year rolls on.”
The council has ensured the council tax energy rebate of £150 per household has been paid very quickly with more than £3million paid to over 20,000 households so far.
Locally, the council is administering a £220,000 fund from East Sussex County Council which forms part of the government’s household support fund enabling eligible people to apply for vouchers of £50 per adult, £30 per child and a £100 energy voucher.
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: “The agreement to appoint a council officer whose sole focus is to coordinate and deliver actions that tackle the cost of living crisis, is especially welcome.
“I know in conversations with the Emergency Food Network and others how important this will be.”
The council has also ensured the council tax energy rebate of £150 per household has been paid very quickly with more than £3million paid to over 20,000 households so far.
Another measure already taken is a new council tax reduction scheme that means local people of working age and in greatest hardship do not have to pay anything.
Councillor Nicholson added: “We fully recognise the financial pressure being felt in many homes across the district and continue to provide help to those struggling to pay their council rent and council tax, alongside the significant funding and support schemes we have set up.”