Lib Dems call on Surrey County Council to declare a cost-of-living crisis emergency
Lib Dems will be calling on Surrey County Council to declare a cost-of-living crisis emergency in a motion they will propose at the full council meeting on 12 July.
Families in Surrey were starting to struggle even before the pandemic, but spiralling prices and real terms fall in wages have caused many more residents to start claiming benefits for the first time. Food bank usage has increased by 300% over 2019 figures and around 23,000 children are already living in poverty.
The motion calls on the County Council to initiate a county-wide cost-of-living summit to better coordinate action to tackle these issues. It also urges the Conservative administration to lobby for changes on a national level, including a 12-month reduction in the standard rate of VAT from 20 per cent to 17.5 and the restoration of the Universal Credit supplement of £20, which was cancelled by the Government in September 2021.
In proposing the motion Fiona White (divisional Member for Guildford West) said:
"Surrey Lib Dems welcome the work that the County Council has done on seeking to tackle child poverty and to improve outcomes for those living in the more relatively deprived areas of Surrey, but unfortunately it is not enough in these increasingly tougher times. The declaration of a cost-of-living crisis would bring a greater sense of urgency and focus to tackling the current situation for Surrey residents, which is only likely to worsen in the short term.
Of course, we are also calling for changes in national policy, but Surrey's Tory administration should be well placed to lobby its government to bring in the changes everyone needs to help them through these difficult times, and we would urge them to exert that influence as much as possible."
Carla Morson, who will second the motion, (divisional Member for Ash) added:
"Even though we are fortunate to live in what is regarded as an affluent county, we are fully aware of pockets of relative deprivation that already existed long before the pandemic. However, more and more I am being contacted by residents who, find themselves for the first time in a situation where they are having to start claiming benefits or even relying on a foodbank for their family to eat. We know there's no magic solution, but this motion could be the catalyst for focussing and coordinating action at the county level".