An 'arm will put around' residents in Torbay struggling with their finances.
The pledge has been by the local authority in the Bay where council tax is about to rise again.
Torbay Council’s draft budget proposes a three per cent rise for the next financial year, which begins in April.
The hike per will take council tax for Band D properties up by around £50 to £1,691 for 2022/2023.
Twinned with the 1.25 per cent rise in national insurance and escalating costs of living, the rise is likely to make life tougher for many people in the Bay. A helpline is being provided for people struggling financially.
Speaking at a meeting to discuss the budget, deputy council leader Darren Cowell, who is also the cabinet member for finance, said: “Not everyone wants to pick up the phone or send an email to the council because they fear a corporate, faceless bureaucracy.
“That’s why we want to continue to work to with our partners in the third sector in the community, not least the Torbay Community Helpline in terms of being able to provide that level of support that is necessary for families and households who are going to continue to struggle.”
Cllr Cowell told an earlier meeting of the council’s cabinet: “We are absolute committed to putting an arm around people who can’t pay.”
Asked if a community helpline was enough for people facing financial hardship, a council spokesman said: “The Torbay Community Helpline has been instrumental in providing vital support across Torbay by signposting people to registered debt advice alongside help with mental health and wellbeing.
“Anyone who is struggling financially is encouraged to seek advice or support from either ourselves or our community partners at the earliest opportunity.”
The council is also to fund additional debt advice services through Citizens Advice.
Adult social care is one of the council’s biggest responsibilities. It currently plans to spend more than £46 million of its £120 million budget on the service.
Speaking at the meeting to explain the budget, Cllr Cowell said: “The budget is set against the background of the council having seen a significant drop in its council grant from central government. This year we’re around £96 million less than we were in previous years at the start of austerity. In fact the culminative loss is in excess of £500 million.”
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