Labour councillors at a meeting of Hackney Council voted unanimously to call for an emergency budget to help tackle the rising cost of living, thanks to a motion tabled by Labour councillors Soraya Adejare and Ifraah Samatar.
Proposing the motion, Cllr Adejare said that in a borough with one of highest levels of deprivation we find ourselves upon a precipice. “The cost-of-living crisis is the biggest fall in standards of living in a generation.”
She said that immediate hardship and the fear and threat of even more to come is a time bomb. “The buffers we once had are wearing thin.” She ask for urgent action to be taken as people were suffering.
Seconding the motion, Cllr Samatar said that poorer households, people with disabilities and children are disproportionately affected. “My heart aches for children who are finishing school for the summer. Instead of joy and excitement – their families face six weeks of struggle and worry over food costs.”
She pointed out: “The fact that children have gone to bed hungry should shame us all.”
Councillor Samatar acknowledged the important work carried out by London Right to Food and championed the group leading the “Hunger is a Political Choice” awareness here in Hackney.
Cllr Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Health, pointed out that Hackney is now a Right to Food borough.
The motion highlighted that even before the current crisis, research by the Trust for London suggested that over 40% of children in Hackney live in poverty after housing costs:
The number of people claiming Universal Credit in September 2021 had more than doubled from the 13,700 claimants in March 2020, before the first lockdown.
Hackney Foodbank – one of several in the borough – saw the number of families using it increase from 8,400 in 2019 to 19,000 the following year.
The motion tabled at a Full Council meeting on 20th July, 2022, can be found here (scroll down to the end) –
1. To call on the Government to introduce an Emergency Budget to take urgent action to protect the people of Hackney from the cost of living crisis
2. To note that:
Energy costs have risen by an average of £693 per household – and are set to rise even further, with Ofgem setting the energy price cap at £2800 from October
Food prices are soaring, some basic staples by as much as 20%
Inflation has hit 9% ─ its highest level in 40 years
Personal Taxation is now at its highest level in 70 years
48% of children in Hackney live in poverty and 16.5% of local residents are claiming out-of-work benefits
Meanwhile £11.8bn of public money has been lost to fraud through the Governments Covid support schemes
3. To write to the Prime Minister urging him to:
Introduce an immediate Emergency Budget to protect children, families, and pensioners from the worst fall in living standards in generations
Cut business rates for small businesses
Cut the VAT rate on energy bills
Increase the support available to all claimants through the welfare and benefits system
Deliver on the calls made by UNISON, the NEU and other education unions to expand the free school meals programme to all families receiving universal credit or an equivalent benefit
Fund Hackney Council’s Green Homes programme to retrofit homes helping to reduce home energy consumption and cut energy bills.