Somerset County Council has declared a cost-of-living emergency and is calling on the Government to take immediate action to reduce the impacts on local people.
At a meeting of Full Council [19/07/2022], Councillors discussed the ongoing cost-of-living crisis which has seen household bills soar to the highest levels in history.
Councillors voted for the Chief Executive to write to Government and ask them to:
- Immediately reduce the standard rate of VAT from 20 per cent to 17.5 per cent for one year, saving the average household in Somerset a further £600 this year.
- Immediately re-introduce the pensions triple lock to support Somerset’s pensioners.
- Immediately restore the Universal Credit supplement of £20, which was cancelled by the Government in September 2021.
Councillors also committed to joining other local councils and key stakeholders, including Citizens Advice, Food Banks, Trade Unions and Chambers of Commerce at a Somerset Cost-of-Living Emergency Summit. MPs will also be invited to attend.
Following an amendment, it was agreed to establish a proportionally representative cross-party working group to recommend to the Executive and November Full Council other practical steps that the Council can take to alleviate the impact of the cost of living on the most vulnerable.
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Somerset County Council’s Lead Executive Member for Communities, said: “The cost of living has soared in recent weeks and many people are deeply concerned about how they will pay their bills this winter. We will continue to provide support for our most vulnerable residents but food and heating are not luxuries and we have a duty to lobby the Government to do more in response to a very real emergency.”
A second motion was also carried, calling on the Chancellor to ensure the planned household energy bill rebates are available to all, including renters and those who rely on pre-payment meters. Somerset MPs will be asked to lobby Government to increase the cost-of-living payments available to sick and disabled people with immediate effect.
Anyone in Somerset who is struggling to pay the bills this winter can seek help through the Household Support Fund administered by Somerset County Council, as well as Somerset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign. You can find further information about finances, food, childcare and more via our website.