Arun council decides not to declare cost of living emergency as it's "too political"

Monday, October 3rd, 2022 1:30pm

By Katie Ahearn & Jessica Hubbard, Local Democracy Reporter @katiescahearn

Declaring an "emergency" would have seen council tax frozen and a review into additional help for families

Arun District Council have chosen not to declare a cost of living emergency, branding it "too political". 

A recent meeting saw a push to announce a "cost of living emergency", which would see council tax frozen and a review into additional help for families, as councillor Pauline Gregory admits that residents are "suffering". Votes cast instead called for cost of living issues to be discussed by its "housing and well-being committee". 

Alongside councillor Jamie Bennett, Gregory proposed that the council's chief executive should lobby government to reduce standard VAT, get rid of VAT on energy bills, and use 'windfall tax' income to reduce household bills. 

Gregory drew on figures to illustrate the crisis locally: "Bognor Regis and Littlehampton food banks for the last financial year [show] that 2,655 food parcels have been distributed feeding 6,263 individuals, including repeat users, with 2,321 being distributed to children.

"Whilst the government is providing one off payments of £400, or an average of £33 per calendar month, many households in Arun will be in fuel poverty meaning that more than ten per cent of their income will be spent on fuel, particularly those on low pay and pensioners."

Meanwhile, Councillor Mike Northeast noted that a tax freeze would lead to less income, meaning there could be cuts to staff and service. 

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