In his budget proposals for the new financial year, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has announced extra funding to support residents struggling with energy bills. An extra £200,000, ringfenced for energy bills, will be made available in the council’s Resident Support Scheme as the cost of living crisis hits families across the borough.
Ten years of the Conservative Government’s failed energy policy, including a failure to make more homes warm and well-insulated and a failure to properly regulate our energy market, has left the UK uniquely exposed to the global gas price crisis, leading to dozens of energy companies going bust and contributing to the escalating energy bill crisis.
While the Chancellor has recently announced measures to mitigate this crisis, the Government’s support package does not come close to helping those most in need, instead loading costs onto the taxpayer with a “buy now, pay later” loan scheme that doesn’t even come in until October. For those getting additional support under the Council Tax rebate, they still face paying approximately £343 extra this year. Many pensioners and those on low incomes do not pay council tax – thanks to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme Tower Hamlets Council offers – and will not be eligible for automatic support for their bills.
Tower Hamlets Labour have acted to address this immediate crisis by proposing a £200,000 boost to the current £600,000 Resident Support Scheme, offering additional support to those most in need and buying them some breathing space. The Council will also make a concerted effort to run a campaign of energy saving tips to help people keep their bills to a minimum.
The Budget will be debated at Full Council on Wednesday 2nd March 2021. The proposals – which include a wide-range of other measures to support residents during the cost-of-living crisis – can be viewed here.
Councillor Mufeedah Bustin, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion said:
“With already high levels of poverty in the borough, the increase in energy bills could not have come at a worse time for residents.
“This proposal will provide extra support for those residents most struggling to meet energy costs and shows the good work a Labour council can do in the face of the Tory Cost of Living Crisis.”
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:
“The Tory Cost of Living Crisis has hit Tower Hamlets residents hard, and there is a real risk that households will be forced to choose between heating and eating.
“The Chancellor’s approach to supporting people through this really difficult time has been to lurch to a short-term loan, only adding uncertainty and making a bad situation worse.
“We have pledged to help those most in need in our borough, and our upcoming budget will help provide those most in need of help with some extra support during these difficult times.”