Councils to hire expert to lead cost-of-living action plan
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A cost-of-living coordinator is to be hired by two Suffolk councils to help residents affected by rising bills.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils' cabinets have unanimously agreed a joint action plan to help the districts tackle the crisis.
The cost-of-living coordinator will be recruited this summer to lead the work.
The plan centres on five key elements:
- Co-ordinating Government support
- Exercising discretion in providing welfare support
- Maximising partnership work with other agencies such as Citizens Advice and Suffolk County Council
- Maintaining good health for people to prevent them falling into crisis
- Ensuring access to healthy food and nutrition
Mary McLaren, Independent Conservative cabinet member for communities and wellbeing at Babergh, said: “The proposed cost of living five-point plan recognises that focusing on cost-of-living issues alone will not mitigate against the health impacts across our communities and believe a focus on wellbeing is also required.”
Harry Richardson, Conservative cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Mid Suffolk, recognised that additional measures of support had been announced by the Government, such as the £400 energy bill support planned for later this year, but said “the measures contained within this report are still valid and indeed invaluable”.
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He added that it would allow the authorities to be “proactive and practical in the support we provide to our residents”.
Among the council’s existing activities are social prescribing measures and council tax and housing support for those struggling financially, but other measures may also be explored such as bolstered holiday activity programmes, or community pantries and allotments.
Keith Welham from Mid Suffolk’s opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group said: “I welcome the plan, but I am wondering how much of it is already being done and what are completely new initiatives.
“We need to know what outputs we are aiming for and how they will be measured so we know that we are actually being successful in this plan in alleviating the cost of living crisis.”
The group called for consideration of those in rural communities who may struggle to access services, as well as an element on fuel poverty and energy conservation.