Cost of Living crisis: Greens back emergency package of support for Lewes District Residents

24 February 2022

Lewes District Councillors

The Co-operative Alliance at Lewes District Council voted tonight to create a package of support for local residents to help deal with the cost of living crisis.

Zoe Nicholson, Green Party District Councillor and Leader of Lewes District Council proposed a package of support to support families and people in the District cope with the cost of living crisis.

She proposed the creation of a £500,000 hardship fund for anyone in the District experiencing difficulties in paying their food or energy bills. As well as introducing 100% discount to Council Tax bills for those on the lowest incomes. The proposals were supported unanimously by Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independent members of the Co-operative alliance. The proposals were voted against by the Conservatives, who abstained, who argued that supporting the most vulnerable in this way was not the “right thing to do.”

Zoe Nicholson said “We know so many families and people across our district who are facing huge hikes in their bills, who are facing hard choices between heating their homes and paying for food, it’s imperative that the Council does what it can to help. This fund, alongside offering 100% council tax discount, will help many people. I am grateful for the full support of our Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent colleagues – without their support this would not be possible.Today we end an 8 year injustice that those with the very least have to pay something for their council tax, often pushing people into more and more debt.”

Cllr Imogen Makepeace said “We know from our own local Citizens Advice that council tax debt is a huge issue for many people, and that debt causes long term mental health issues for our community. I am so pleased this action has finally taken place.”

Cllr Johnny Denis, Cabinet Member for Communities and Customers, supporting the proposal, said "This not only supports residents at a time of extreme financial pressure, it puts council resources into the local economy through major investment through our capital programme. This includes renewing and new playgrounds, greenspaces and toilets - vital community assets which matter to our residents."

Matt Bird Green Party District Councillor and Cabinet Member for Sustainability said “Alongside the creation of this fund, we are also investing in retrofitting our own housing stock, providing advice on reducing energy bills, working with Warm Works to help people access grants to insulate their homes and supporting local community energy groups in their neighbourhoods.”

Adrian Ross, Green Party councillor for Lewes Bridge ward, added, “We know from the Bank of England that in general during the pandemic the poorest got poorer while the richest got richer.  This is an important first step in redressing the balance.”

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