Slough council to 'press' Government to increase financial help for poorest

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk
Slough Borough Council reinstates parking enforcement

The council has resolved to ‘press’ the Government for further help for Slough residents in the wake of a ‘crisis’ in the cost of living.

At a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (April 26), Councillor Christine Hulme, cabinet member for children’s services, lifelong learning and skills, filed a motion for the council to write to the Government.

“This council notes that cost of living increases are becoming a crisis for families across the country,” her motion reads.

From this month, Slough is paying an extra £36.9million following the raising of the energy price cap, it says. Food prices have risen by 27 per cent and childcare costs by 50 per cent since 2010.

Specifically, the council proposes that the Government considers:

· Expanding and increasing cold weather payments in time for winter, and extending the eligibility for winter fuel payments to cover lower income working-age households

· Restoring the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, introduced temporarily to help recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic

· Revising the usual annual uplift to other benefit payments and the state pension to reflect current rates of inflation – to tackle ‘the steep rise in inflation over recent months’.

Moreover, the council wants these measures to be funded by a windfall tax on the ‘recent bumper profits’ of companies in the oil and gas industry.

A windfall tax is a one-off tax imposed on a group of companies that have benefited from something they were not responsible for.

Cllr Robert Anderson (Lab & Co-Op, Britwell and Northborough) suggested that windfall tax should not be considered a purely Labour policy, as previous Conservative governments – notably Thatcher’s – have introduced them to ease the country’s financial pressures.

Leader of the council James Swindlehurst said that the £20 uplift in Universal Credit had ‘transformed’ people out of poverty, and its removal had put them back in again.

“This Government has moved from doing ‘whatever it takes’, to do doing ‘whatever it can’, which is very different,” he said.

Opposition councillors from the Conservative party voiced general support for the motion.

However, they also said it felt like ‘a distraction’ from Slough council’s own failings – and the financial strain on residents caused by this.

They suggested that said motions should be focused on council improvements, looking at things like the closure of day centres and cutting of services.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t try to fix our own house, first,” said Conservative group deputy leader Cllr Paul Kelly (Haymill and Lynch Hill)

Nonetheless, no councillors voted against the motion. It passed with 32 votes in favour and six abstentions.

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