Local organisations call on Chancellor to help with cost-of-living
Representatives from public, private, faith and voluntary sectors from across St Helens Borough have joined forces to ask government for more help to tackle the cost-of-living emergency and for fair funding for essential services.
Article date: 1 November 2022
The letter, signed by partners and organisations from across the borough who have come together under the St Helens Together banner, urges Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, ahead of his statement on 17th November, to recognise the economic and humanitarian urgency of the situation and give essential services the fair funding they need to provide necessary support to local residents and businesses.
The letter also calls for the Chancellor to provide as much direct financial support as possible.
The letter highlights the impact locally that the crisis is having on people including a 100 per cent increase in demand for services such as Citizens Advice, two local foodbanks running out of food for the first time ever, GPs reporting that vulnerable patients are going without medicines because they can't afford prescription charges, and social housing provider Torus reporting an unprecedented number of people in rent arrears.
"For over a decade we have seen increasing demand for services, and in recent months this has escalated even further with more and more households requiring help", says Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council.
"Most of our essential support services are already struggling. St Helens Borough Council faces an estimated funding gap of £14m for 2023/24, and there is nothing left for the council to cut that won't further harm our ability to support the most vulnerable or provide the services all residents rightly expect and need.
"Without fair funding from government for our essential services, then services will continue to be under threat at a time when people need them most," said Councillor Baines.
As well as asking for fair funding to enable organisations to provide essential services and allocating direct financial support to residents and businesses, the letter also specifically asks the Chancellor to consider:
- Providing councils and partners with resources to provide services and also give them the flexibility to lead on local approaches such as ensuring that people on pre-paid energy meters can access fuel vouchers.
- Providing a fair, accessible, and sufficient benefits system
- Raising the threshold to increase the number of people eligible for free prescriptions.
- Enabling primary schools to provide children with a healthy breakfast and to provide universal free school meals for all primary pupils.
- Using a percentage of the profits made by the energy suppliers to fund debt and welfare advice.
- Taking action do to clamp down on loan sharks.
- Provide subsidies to anyone who is at risk of severe illness due to cold weather (those aged over 65, those with respiratory illness and those with mobility problems) to ensure they can keep their houses heated.
The letter has been sent to the Chancellor on Tuesday 1st November. A copy of the letter can be viewed on our St Helens Together page for advice.