East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet has approved over £3 million of spending to help support individuals, families and business through the Cost of Living Crisis.
While fighting its own cost of living crisis, the Cabinet was clear that this funding is just the first step in helping sustain communities through this unpreceded financial strain.
Cabinet praised the way all East Ayrshire Council services have come together and used evidenced based approaches and learning from the pandemic to identify the most effective options to support communities and businesses.
With an investment of £2,209,500, the proposals will focus on six key areas:
Councillors acknowledged that the impact of rising energy, raw materials and food prices, coming on top of the after effects of the pandemic, economic uncertainty and the war in Ukraine, are placing more and more local residents in financial hardship. The meeting agreed that while everyone will be affected, specific groups that will be hardest hit.
At the same time they recognised that for many who have “always managed” this crisis will bring unaccustomed hardships, which may mean they have to call on support for the first time in their lives.
Here's how the money will be allocated:
This latest round of funding brings the total investment in supporting communities and businesses deal with the Cost of Living crisis to £3.1m.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council welcomed the report. He said: “In February 2022, as part of our budget process, we approved additional funding for financial inclusion, income maximisation and energy and debt advice when we first became aware of the potential fuel crisis.
"Since then however, the situation globally has worsened and it is evident from increasing benefit claims and people seeking debt advice and assistance locally that the situation has already reached crisis point for many. We anticipate that things will only worsen further as we approach autumn and winter, with our most vulnerable residents and low-income households being hit hardest.
“The support package will provide relief and support to many but we know that the pressures are significant and will likely remain so for some time but we hope that the investment provided now will act as a catalyst - encouraging and enabling communities including community and faith groups to help each other to support local people in financial hardship.
“Our business community is only just starting to recover from the pandemic and the current impact of supplies, labour shortages and rising energy costs will have another detrimental effect on local companies.
"These new measures will identify the challenges that our local business are facing and provide funding and practical support to sustain themselves during these challenging times."
Councillor Maureen McKay, Leader of the Labour Group said: "We share the immense concerns in this awful situation. As councillors we take our roles and responsibilities seriously, and we accept and acknowledge that we can all be eyes and ears, passing on worries and information both to and from our communities, making sure we get appropriate responses.
"This Cabinet agreement represents a start, it's only right that we all have a huge desire, energy and will to do our best, but we also have to realise it will require much more input from both our Scottish and UK Governments to mitigate these urgent and serious challenges.
"As councillors we're happy to come together to support these initiatives, and we'll do all we can to promote vital information to get help to where it is most needed."
Councillor John McFadzean, Leader of the Conservative Group said: "I'm very happy that as councillors we're coming together to push forward this initiative to help tackle what is a very bleak situation for so many. This is what local government is all about, working with each other to do the best we can for all our constituents, listening to people, finding out what they need, and responding quickly with positive and constructive action."
The Council has relaunched its successful Kind Caring and Connected campaign which served it so well during our response to the COVID Pandemic. It will be promoting where and how to get help through its new Cost of Living webpages and anyone can subscribe to receive regular Cost of Living email updates with useful tips and contact details through its StayConnected system.
For those who aren’t able to access the internet, leaflets, telephone numbers and personal contact will be available to make sure as Councillor Reid says: “We will redouble our efforts to make sure we support our East Ayrshire residents during these unprecedented times.”