Somerset West & Taunton Council declare cost of living emergency

SOMERSET West and Taunton Council declared a cost of living emergency last night (July 5) with support from all councillors except the Conservatives.

Source > Somerset County Gazette

By Lewis Wiseman

6 July 2022

The motion was introduced by Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Booth and it included a commitment for the council to continue working on a support fund of at least £50,000 to support residents suffering from energy and food price increases to be ready by the end of summer.

This will be funded from an underspend in the previous financial year.

Two Conservative councillors, Cllr Barr and Cllr Trollope-Bellew left the room during the debate whilst the remaining Conservative councillors, Cllrs Cavill, Hadley, Habgood and Stock-Williams failed to support the motion.

Further demands included VAT to be cut to 17.5% for 12 months, the re-introduction of the pension triple-lock and the £20 Universal Credit supplement to be restored.

It also endorsed a local cost of living summit to be held with local stakeholders including businesses, charities and MPs to share experiences and ideas to tackle the crisis.

Following the vote, Cllr Chris Booth said: “I am delighted to have received cross-party support from the majority of councillors in declaring a cost of living emergency.

“It is a real shame that the local Conservatives couldn’t bring themselves to support the motion and the cost-of-living hardship fund – with some even leaving the room.

“As a local authority, it is vital that we do all we can to support residents in these challenging times and this declaration sends a clear message to the Conservative government that more needs to be done at a national level.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson Gideon Amos said: “It is clear the Conservatives are letting us down locally and nationally. They are more concerned with playing party politics than in taking real action that people are desperate to see.

“This was an opportunity to support an initiative that would provide real help to people in our community and it is deeply depressing that the Conservatives couldn’t bring themselves to support it.”

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