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Councillor Peter Mason standing in a local street, looking to the left of the picture. The words Leader's Notes are superimposed on the image.

Doing more, with much less money

Whether you are having to deal with paying extra for your weekly shop, are facing the highest electricity and heating costs you’ve ever received, have seen your rent increase or your mortgage payments spiral, everyone has experienced the challenge of having to pay bigger bills.  

As the council turns its attention to agreeing our annual budget, and setting out what we will spend and save, in many ways, the challenge for the council is exactly the same.  

As rental prices skyrocket and housing benefit continues to be frozen, we are spending more on supporting the rising number of people who are becoming homeless.   

Last year, 4,360 families approached us for support because they were either homeless or about to be made homeless. 

We do not expect the number of families asking us to help them find somewhere to live to reduce anytime soon.  

Despite what has been reported in the media this week, the cost of living crisis is not easing, and this is having a huge impact on people’s ability to pay for their housing. 

We are also supporting more children and young people with complex needs, who often need to live away from their homes. The cost of this care has also increased substantially. And, this is true too for the social care support we provide to adults. 

Of course, we cannot turn people away in their time of need, despite this ever- increasing demand on our services. Yet, since 2010, the funding we get from the government has been sliced in half – it has fallen by nearly 56% in real terms.  

The number of well-run councils declaring bankruptcy grows, and with even more saying they are close to being unable to fund the services that legally they must, I know some people are worried about what support and help they might expect from the council when they need it most.   

Putting our financial situation in context and echoing the recent words of my colleague Councillor Steve Donnelly, cabinet member for inclusive economy, Ealing Council is having to do more with much less money. 

Despite the tough time ahead of us, we will continue to work with communities who need the most support and invest in helping to make each one of our 7 towns thrive. 
We take our responsibility to you, our residents, incredibly seriously.  

That means always being honest about the challenges we face, transparent in the decisions we make, and including you at every step along the way.  

The years ahead, just as the last few years, will not be easy. So, we will continue to be prudent and level headed with your money, and invest wisely in the future of the slice of west London we all get to call home.  

What does this mean in money? 

At a cabinet meeting this week, we agreed to allocate: 

  • £11.6million to adults’ social care   
  • £20.6million to children’s social care   
  • £5million to housing and environment, with £2.4million from this amount to be invested in tackling homelessness.  

We also pledged to spend £150million on new temporary accommodation properties to reduce the number of people being placed in commercial hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation.  

These new investments sit alongside our existing commitments to deliver a new leisure centre at Gurnell, deliver on the unrealised ambition for a grand regional park, a new lido for the borough and delivering on our missions to create 10,000 new well-paid jobs, 4,000 genuinely affordable homes and 10 new parks as well as so much more.  

Help us save lifeline funding 

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, it is those who are most vulnerable who continue to be most impacted. Yet there is currently a real risk of things worsening for many residents across the borough, as uncertainty over the future of the household support fund grows.  

In late 2021, the government launched the Household Support fund (HSF) in response to the cost-of-living crisis. This money helps councils support those most impacted.   

The provision of the HSF has been a lifeline for those who need the most help but, as things stand, this fund will end on Sunday 31 March and the government has not yet confirmed if the fund will be extended beyond this date.  

We, at Ealing Council, are urging the government to extend the HSF so that we can continue to provide food, warm spaces, and one-off payments for essential items for residents, and so that we can also continue to support local charities providing vital services to residents struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.   

This winter, we have used £5.3million of HSF money to: 

  • provide holiday food vouchers to 17,000 households – including 14,400 households with school age children and 1,200 households with children under 5 
  • provide food vouchers for 339 young people in care  
  • provide food vouchers to 2,250 households receiving council tax relief or housing benefit  
  • provide food vouchers to 2,200 households who receive care at home  
  • give £200,000 to local charities to provide advice and support to residents  
  • pay £300,000 in one-off payments to help residents with essential purchases 

No HSF means services end 

If the government axes the HSF, then these services will simply stop because we will not be able to make up the funding ourselves.  

There is a real risk of many households falling through the gaps into crisis if this support is stopped, and there will likely be even more demand on our services. 

We’re setting up a petition for residents, faith leaders, charities, and community groups to sign, urging the government to think again. 

The petition will be available to sign from next week. Keep an eye on the Around Ealing website, Ealing Council’s social media channels and Around Ealing Extra email (you can sign up for that online).

Please show your support for our those in our community who need our help the most and lend your support to our campaign.

Councillor Peter Mason signature
Councillor Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council

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