Cost of Living Concerns - Mendip Matters - 10th February2022


I am acutely aware of the cost-of-living concerns residents, communities and businesses in Mendip are feeling at the moment.

We’ve all seen a rise in our energy prices, food and petrol. National insurance is set to increase, mortgage rates are up. Inflation is the highest it’s been for 30 years. And Council Tax bills will land on doormats next month.
 
Despite the picture-postcard portrayal of Mendip as a go-to destination, I know there are pockets of real, rural deprivation in our district. The demand on food banks in our area demonstrates this.
 
Other help is also out there, and I sincerely hope that most people know they can turn to their District Council - and trusted partners, such as Citizens Advice Mendip - in times of financial trouble.
Every Mendip household will get a £200 discount on their energy bills in October, which they can pay back over five years. And all households whose main home is valued in council tax bands A to D will receive a one-off council tax energy rebate payment of £150. Some 78.3%* of Mendip households are within those four bands. That’s 41,646 households eligible for the discount.
A discretionary fund for households in need (who would not otherwise be eligible) will also be available. This could include those on low incomes who live in properties valued in bands E to H.
 
To find out which Council Tax band you are in check here: www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands.
If you think you might miss a Council Tax payment or want to spread the cost, email [email protected] or call 0300 303 8588, and we can help you set up a plan. Alternatively, call Citizens Advice Mendip on freephone 0808 27 87 842. Their website is www.citizensadvicemendip.org.uk.
 
I happen to believe that using Council Tax as a means to reduce the rising costs is inefficient and unfair – what about those people who don’t own their own homes and are renting? The Council Tax bears absolutely no relation to people’s ability to pay and needs to be replaced by an income-based alternative. An overhaul of the Council Tax system is a serious and ongoing debate, but not one that will be quickly resolved. Residents feeling the pinch in household budgets need help now.
That’s why on Monday, Cabinet approved a hardship fund of £60k to provide extra financial help for those in most need on top of Council Tax support for 2022/23. That’s an increase of £10k on the £50k granted last year. I’m proud to say since 2019, your Council has doubled this fund to help those most in need.
There’s also financial support for vulnerable people to help with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essentials. The Somerset Household Support Fund is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions and designed to provide short-term financial support. This is available until 31 March 2022. To apply visit:  www.mendip.gov.uk/hsf.
On a lighter note, congratulations to Her Majesty the Queen who marked 70 years’ service on Sunday. I look forward to our communities coming together this summer as we take part in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
If you have any questions for me, then please do get in touch by email: [email protected] or via Facebook: @RosWyke.

*Figures as at Oct 2021  

Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council

Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].


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