Councillor Farrance asked the Leader the following question:
‘According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (2019) for England, Thanet continues to rank as the most deprived local authority in Kent.
In particular, Margate Central ranks 67th out of 32,844 local areas, closely followed by Cliftonville West at 117th, and Newington at 284th. Clearly, these figures illustrate that we have extremely high levels of Children in Poverty, Homelessness, Unemployment and benefits claimants and Rough Sleepers.
This 'cost of living crisis’ (or cost of capitalism crisis) will hit thousands of our residents and their wellbeing, and put them in a very dangerous position. Many people are very fearful about how they will be able to find the money to stay warm and find enough to eat. Therefore, could the Council outline their plans to support the thousands of residents suffering deprivation, particularly our children, and elderly and disabled, through the coming winter months?’
The Leader responded with the following points:
· The Council had administered over £8.7M of support to approximately 58,000 households in the district in forms of the Council Tax energy rebate payments.
· The Council had also provided target support through its own discretionary energy rebate scheme. This had allocated £371,000 and benefitted almost 10,000 households in the district.
· The Local Council Tax Support Schemes in Thanet was recognised as one of the most generous schemes in the country. This scheme had provided up to 90% relief for working age residents.
· The Council had provided, and was continuing to provide support in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments.
· Through the Household Support fund, the Council had provided over £460,000. This included direct financial support to pensioners with energy bills, with approximately 1,500 Well and Warm packs, which included money and energy saving essentials such as microwave ovens. The third tranche of the Household Support Fund was due to be rolled out over the autumn and winter period of 2022/2023.
· The housing options team had continued to financially assist households which were threatened with homelessness and various ways including:
1. Assistance to pay off rent arrears to sustain their tenancy;
2. Support with going through budget plans and personal housing plans;
3. Helping with the rent in advance and deposit towards new accommodation.
· The RISE team (Rough Sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment) had secured funding up until March 2025, and provided food vouchers, phones, move-in packs, initial gas and electric top-ups, donated items, furniture as well as giving help with food parcels and signposting to food banks. This had been designed to help someone from rough sleeping into a sustainable home.
· Within the private sector, the Council was providing support for people experiencing fuel poverty to access funding for energy efficiency improvements.
Councillor Farrance followed up her question by asking if there were any plans to support food banks more, including offering warm spaces to people in the winter months.
The Leader responded that the Council and the community team were very supportive of the food banks. Tenancy was coming to an end, but the Council would support where it could. The Leader would find out if there were any plans for the Council building to be a warm hub.