Eastbourne council becomes first council to declare ‘cost of living emergency’

Exclusive: Lib Dem-run authority will pass motion to give Tory government ‘wake-up call’ and help local charities

Inflation hits 40-year high as energy bills soar

Eastbourne is to become the first council in the UK to declare a “cost of living emergency” as a record number of people in the south coast town are forced to turn to food banks to survive.

The Liberal Democrat-run local authority is expected to pass the unprecedented motion later on Wednesday in a bid to address the sharp rise in poverty in the English seaside resort.

Eastbourne Foodbank has been the busiest in the UK over the past year – distributing more parcels per head than any other food bank, according to the Trussell Trust network.

Councillor Josh Babarinde said the emergency declaration would help Eastbourne Borough Council work more effectively with charities, as well as offering a “wake-up call” to Boris Johnson’s government.

“We need immediate action from the government – they have to realise that this cost of crisis has become an emergency because of their inaction,” said the Lib Dem councillor.

“People are coming to me every day saying, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get by’,” Mr Babarinde told The Independent. “There are parents who are skipping meals all the time so their kids can eat.”

He added: “I spoke to an elderly lady who said she was going to have to turn off her TV completely, her lifeline, her only company, because of electricity costs. These are awful choices people should not be having to make in our society.”

Eastbourne Foodbank handed out 17,440 emergency food parcels per 100,000 people last year, according to the Trussell Trust – the highest rate in the UK.

Councillor Babarinde said the emergency motion would lead to a cost of living summit in Eastbourne so charities and food banks can collaborate with the council to make sure no-one slips through the safety net.

The Lib Dem motion also calls for the Tory government to bring in a national windfall tax on oil and gas giants’ profits, restore the pensions” triple lock” so payments can keep pace with inflation, and cut VAT by 2.5 per cent to help reduce prices.

“The council can play a critical role, but the problems facing people at the moment are massive and they require massive solutions from government,” said Mr Babarinde, the Lib Dems’ candidate for the Eastbourne constituency.

Cost of living: how to get help

The cost of living crisis has touched every corner of the UK, pushing families to the brink with rising food and fuel prices.

  • The Independent has asked experts to explain small ways you can stretch your money, including managing debt and obtaining items for free.
  • If you need to access a food bank, find your local council’s website using gov.uk and then use the local authority’s site to locate your nearest centre. The Trussell Trust, which runs many foodbanks, has a similar tool.
  • Citizens Advice provides free help to people in need. The organisation can help you find grants or benefits, or advise on rent, debt and budgeting.
  • If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

Tory MPs voted against a Labour move to amend the Queen’s Speech and introduce windfall tax on the soaring profits of oil and gas companies. It was rejected on Tuesday night by 310 votes to 248.

It comes as official figures inflation reached 9 per cent in the year to April – the highest level for 40 years. The poorest households have been hit with inflation rates of 10.9 per cent, according to Institute of Fiscal Studies analysis.

Labour will challenge Tory MPs to back a vote on Wednesday pressuring Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit to an emergency budget addressing the living costs crisis.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said measures were needed now “because it is clear that the actions taken to date by the government did not meet the scale of the challenge”.

“Pensioners who have not had the heating on because they can’t afford it, mums who are skipping meals to ensure that their children can eat,” she told BBC Breakfast. “This should not be happening in Britain in the second decade of the 21st century.”

Rejecting a windfall tax, cabinet minister Liz Truss said allowing companies to invest and help create more “high-paid jobs” would get Britain through the cost of living crisis.

It follows a suggestion by fellow Tory minister Rachel Maclean earlier this week that people struggling with soaring bills and prices should consider taking on more hours or move to a better job.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in