Local organisations call on Chancellor to help with cost-of-living emergency and fair funding for essential services

01 Nov 2022

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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.

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 the 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 Citizen’s 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.

Tracy Mawson, Chief Executive at St Helens Chamber said, “In our work with businesses across the Borough, we are becoming increasingly concerned with the impact that the cost-of-living emergency could have on employment levels. Businesses are struggling with multiple demands on their finances; so, urgent action is needed.

“It is of the utmost importance to have St Helens organisations and partners coming together to lobby the Government to provide as much direct financial support as possible, and we plan to use this letter and our combined influence to help the voice of local business be heard.”

The letter has been sent to the Chancellor on Tuesday 1st November