By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Mansfield District Council has declared a ‘cost of living emergency’ and will call on the Government to go further in supporting people struggling with rising household bills.
The Labour-led authority unanimously approved a motion declaring the ’emergency’ on Tuesday (September 20) and will now write to ministers calling for them to offer more support to homes.
The motion asks for “urgent action” during the winter, including “immediate financial support to help address the increased household cost in energy”.
The letter will also ask for an increase in support grants for local councils, particularly for help with housing, and an increase in funds for food banks.
Andy Abrahams is the district’s elected Labour mayor and proposed the motion.
He called for an increase in funding to prevent families from being evicted by private landlords and a rise in the household support grant used for food and fuel vouchers.
The mayor also wants ministers to consider a reduction in VAT to “put money back into the pockets of residents” and for action to increase investments in insulation, nuclear and renewable energies.
Speaking in the meeting, Mr Abrahams said: “The effects of higher taxes, increased energy, fuel and food prices are being felt by residents and businesses across the district.
“All this is happening at a time when, in the Mansfield district, the average worker has seen real wages fall by £988. This is likely to get worse and is affecting people who are in work.
“We have been on the front foot … but this is not going to be enough.
“In order to support residents and businesses across the district … we will write to the Government to ask for urgent action to relieve the cost of living crisis.”
He added: “We need to be able to have the funding to provide something for the most vulnerable in our societies.”
The motion was supported by all councillors in the chamber, despite dispute at times over political elements of the debate.
Cllr Amanda Fisher (Ind), who represents Woodhouse, said: “There are a number of community groups that do some fantastic work out there and they should be applauded for that, but we shouldn’t be normalising it either.
“We shouldn’t be normalising food banks or finding places for people to keep warm. We should be shouting to the rooftops for the Government to sort it out and quickly.”
An amendment was proposed by Cllr Rob Elliman (Con), who represents Oakham, supporting measures Prime Minister Liz Truss and the Tory Government have already announced on the issue.
This included the £150 council tax rebate, a £2,500 cap on household energy bills and other funds supporting residents with rising costs.
Cllr Elliman said: “These are all facts and actions that have and are in place.
“For me, I’d like the Government to look at lowering taxes because I think it would benefit the hardworking people of Mansfield.”
But Cllr John Smart (Lab), who represents Ransom Wood, said: “We shouldn’t be relying on that – people should have a fair standard of living.”
The amendment was voted down before councillors unanimously backed Mr Abrahams’ substantive motion.
Its approval means the mayor will now write to the Government calling for enhanced support this winter.
It comes as the Government announced a plan to help households and businesses with soaring bills for two years.
Measures announced on Wednesday (September 21) include energy bills for UK businesses being cut by about half their predicted level this winter, as well as support for hospitals, schools and charities.
Prime Minister Liz Truss said the Government understands the “huge pressure businesses, charities and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills”.
“As we are doing for consumers, our new scheme will keep their energy bills down from October, providing certainty and peace of mind,” she said.
“At the same time, we are boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”