Eastbourne becomes the first council in Britain to declare a “cost of living emergency” as a record number of people in the south coast city are forced to turn to food banks to survive.
The Liberal Democrat-led local authority is expected to pass the unprecedented motion later on Wednesday to address the sharp rise in poverty in the English seaside resort.
Eastbourne Foodbank was the busiest in Britain last year – distributing more parcels per capita than any other food bank, according to the Trussell Trust network.
Councilor Josh Babarinde said the emergency declaration would help Eastbourne Borough Council work more effectively with charities and provide a “wake-up call” for Boris Johnson’s government.
“We need immediate action from the government – they need to realize that this cost crisis has become an emergency because of their inaction,” the Lib Dem councilor said.
“People come to me every day and say, ‘I don’t know how to manage,’” says Mr. Babarinde The Independent. “There are parents who skip meals all the time so their kids can eat.”
He added: “I spoke to an elderly lady who said she had to completely turn off her TV, her lifeline, her only company, because of electricity bills. These are terrible choices that people in our society should not be making.”
Eastbourne Foodbank distributed 17,440 emergency food parcels per 100,000 people last year – the highest rate in the UK, according to the Trussell Trust.
Councilor Babarinde said the emergency motion would lead to a cost-of-living summit in Eastbourne so charities and food banks can work with the council to ensure nobody slips through the safety net.
The Lib Dem motion also calls for the Tory government to introduce a national windfall tax on oil and gas giants’ profits, restore the “triple lock” on pensions to allow payments to keep pace with inflation, and VAT by 2.5 percent to help lower prices.
“Council can play a crucial role but the problems people are facing at the moment are huge and they require massive solutions from Government,” said Mr Babarinde, the Lib Dems candidate for Eastbourne constituency.
Tory MPs voted against a Labor proposal to amend the Queen’s speech and introduce an unexpected tax on rising oil and gas company profits. It was defeated by a vote of 310 to 248 on Tuesday night.
According to official figures, inflation hit 9 percent in April – the highest level in 40 years. According to an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the poorest households were hit by inflation rates of 10.9 percent.
Labor will urge Tory MPs to support a vote on Wednesday that will pressure Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit to an emergency budget to deal with the cost of living crisis.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said action was needed now “because it is clear that the measures taken by the government so far have not matched the scale of the challenge”.
“Pensioners who haven’t turned on the heating because they can’t afford it, mothers who skip meals to make sure their children can eat,” she told the BBC breakfast. “That shouldn’t be happening in Britain in the second decade of the 21st century.”
Cabinet Secretary Liz Truss opposed a windfall tax, saying allowing businesses to invest and help create more “high-paying 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 more hours or moving to a better job.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/food-banks-cost-of-living-emergency-b2081613.html Eastbourne becomes first council to declare ‘cost of living emergency’