Labour councillors are proactively working to ensure the council is doing everything it can to support residents through the cost of living crisis and at an organisational level.
Council Leader Terry Fox has said that the council are treating this ‘with the same resolves as the pandemic’.
As part of a successful Labour amendment to the Budget in March, extra resources have been provided to support neighbourhoods, and focus extra support on those who will be hardest hit.
Some of the measures undertaken recently also include:
- A dedicated ‘one-stop’ for money advice from the council and partners and developing a Financial Support Access Plan – so Sheffielders can be best advised where to go for the right financial support, suited to their circumstances.
- Extra resources and closer ties to food banks, the CAB, and community groups
- Reviewing and strengthening council hardship schemes to ensure the best deliver and most targeted support
- A fundamental recognition of the council, to ensure that the cost-of-living crisis is the given the urgency it requires.
Writing to the Star recently, Cllr Fox set out what he is doing as Council Leader to support residents through the crisis:
“Friday the 1st of April was labelled “bleak Friday” as the cost of fuel and energy prices soared to unprecedented levels. Many of us wrote down our meter readings to avoid being charged the wrong amount, only to have online systems crash due to a panic mass surge. People are worried. Rightly so.
The lifting of the energy price cap on Friday has created an impossible choice for many- paying for heating or paying for food. For those with children, these choices become even harder to make. Whichever angle you come at this from, low-income households will slide into further debt and poverty.
Despite endless calls on the Government to address the cost-of-living crisis, they just refuse to do anything meaningful. The Government is not listening to the mood of the country. Either that or they just don’t care.
Having come out of the pandemic people did not expect to go straight into another national crisis. But this is a crisis that can be fixed. The Government chooses not to. Why is it that across Europe measures have been introduced to protect households against a sharp rise in energy bills and yet here in the UK, the Tories’ spring statement offered nothing to those who really need it?
The Chancellor announced in February that all households would receive £200 off their energy bills in October, but then will pay the discount back by £40 a year over five years from 2023. How is creating a new debt helping people? It’s madness. This Government is out of touch and doesn’t understand how most folk will be struggling.
Sheffield’s small businesses are also facing a huge rise in bills. Many will struggle to pay their bills and so have no choice but to increase their prices. They have also missed out on any meaningful support. The Government has shown that they will only protect big business. This is a crisis that needs Government intervention, and Boris Johnson should step-up and enact real measures to protect households and small businesses.
Instead their recent budget has rightly been criticised throughout the country. Locally, we lack the powers to do what is really required – but we will do everything we can for this city’s residents.
Unlike the government, we saw this crisis coming and Sheffield City Council has been acting proactively. Labour councillors secured a successful amendment to the council budget last month to put extra resources into supporting neighbourhoods, and focusing extra support on those who will be the most hardest hit.
We know that more families are going to struggle to get enough food – so we are investing more in our food access plan; working with the city’s food banks and luncheon clubs.
We are working to get energy bills down, by moving away from costly fossil fuels and investing millions into sustainable energy – installing renewable energy on our estate; such as schools, libraries, community centres and council homes.
We are also retrofitting 6,000 homes with new roofs, and 2,000 homes will benefit from boiler replacements. We’ll always do what we can to keep bills down for council tenants.
But of course we are committed to all of the city’s households, regardless of type of property or postcode. Labour councillors are working alongside community groups and targeting extra resources to those at the frontline of the crisis.
What is clear is that more residents are not only going to struggle to pay their bills but be completely unable to do so. Sadly, this is when people turn to ‘pay day loan’ operators and ‘loan sharks’. Our council should act as a point of call for those in need, and we will soon rollout a Financial Support Access Plan – so Sheffielders can be best advised where to go for the right financial support, given their particular circumstances.
Readers will probably be sick of me saying that I’m putting Sheffield first – but I really mean it. We know it’s tough for people and we’re on your side doing what we can. But we lack the powers, resources and levers for change that government tightly hold.
They seem to be completely ignorant to rising inflation, stagnant wages and soaring energy bills. I find it unfathomable that government rejected Labour’s calls to cut people’s energy bills by £600 – funded by a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies.
It is also the poorest who will again suffer the most at the hands of this government. Universal Credit is a lifeline for people and yet only a few months ago they cut this by £20 a week. The vast majority of people in Sheffield on universal credit are in work – it’s not easy to simply find a better paid job.
I’m sorry if readers feel my tone is downbeat, I’m normally an optimistic person, but the fact so many people are struggling, with worse to come, is heart-breaking.
If anyone wants to speak to me about their situation do please email email@example.com and I’ll see what I can do.
I want to reassure everyone that the council will put the people of Sheffield first and do everything we can to help them through this challenging period”.