Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has pledged to do all it can to help support those worst affected by the current cost of living crisis.
At this week’s meeting of Full Council, Elected Members unanimously backed a motion calling for urgent action to be taken to help those most in need.
The motion was put forward by Alderman Billy Ashe MBE and seconded by Councillor Angela Smyth.
It stated: “This Council notes with concern the ongoing cost of living crisis, which is forcing people to choose between heating and eating.
“(Council) further notes that the crisis is having a disproportionate effect on working people, with many families being forced to rely on food banks.
“(Council) believes that if left unchallenged, more and more families will be plunged into food and fuel poverty as parents struggle to make ends meet.
“More and more working families will find themselves having to choose benefits over work.
“As a first step, this Council calls on the Minister for Communities to seek agreement from Executive colleagues on an extension to the criteria for the Energy Payment Support Scheme to include working people on low incomes.
“(Council) further calls on the Minister of Finance to seek agreement from Executive colleagues to reduce rates bills for hard pressed families across Northern Ireland.
“Though short-term measures, Council believes these actions could significantly reduce the burden on working people and those on the lowest incomes.”
The motion was supported right across the Chamber and will now be actioned by Council.
Speaking after the meeting, Alderman Ashe said: “I want to thank all my Elected Member colleagues for their support and commitment to doing everything we can as a Council to ease the financial burden on our people.
“We have seen the cost of living soar and the situation for many is already dire. I commend the excellent and vital work being carried out by charity and voluntary organisations throughout our Borough, as well as our Council officers, but they can’t do it alone.
“We need action and we need it now. Nobody should have to sit hungry and cold in 2022, and it is time that we as a society rally behind our people in their time of need.”
Anybody who is experiencing financial hardship should as a first port of call make contact with;
Mid and East Antrim Community Advice Services (MEACAS) Contact telephone number: 028 9600 1333, Website: www.meacas.com
MEACAS provide independent confidential advice on a range of issues including benefits, money, debt, housing, employment etc.
They also can signpost to a range of other support services across the Borough. They have offices in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.