Midlothian Council's Cost of Living Taskforce meets for first time

A ‘Heat and Eat Fund’ of £279,000 to help families not eligible for Scottish Welfare supports was among the first measures approved by Midlothian Council’s new Cost of Living Taskforce.

The Cost of Living Taskforce is chaired by Council Leader Councillor Kelly Parry.
The Cost of Living Taskforce is chaired by Council Leader Councillor Kelly Parry.

Chaired by Council Leader Councillor Kelly Parry, the cross party group met for the first time on Tuesday.

The five councillors on the taskforce approved spending of £961,219 to help low income households as part of the Live Well Locally project.

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Local food bank provision will get £100,000 to make sure those most in need can feed their families while £400,000 will go to expanding the council’s ‘trusted partners’ – a network of local organisations offering practical help and support to those most in need. Current partners, for example, include Melville Housing and Newtongrange Development Trust.

The funding is among Midlothian’s £1.36 million share of an £80m Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery Fund distributed to councils across Scotland.

Taskforce Chair and Midlothian Council Leader, Councillor Kelly Parry said: “It was a really productive first meeting fuelled by a cross party commitment to get help to low income households as quickly as possible.

“We’re appalled there’s a need for this taskforce. While we can try and lessen the impact of this crisis on our local communities, we can’t control the causes.

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“This is why, in my capacity as Council Leader, I will be writing to the UK Government as a matter of urgency to demand it does more to tackle issues such as the rampant inflation and rising fuel costs.”

At the full Council meeting in June, elected members agreed to establish a taskforce to meet regularly to tackle a “tsunami of escalating costs hammering Midlothian households”.

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The first meeting of the taskforce came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she will convene an urgent summit with energy supply companies and consumer groups later this month, to discuss how advice and support for people struggling with energy bills can be improved.

More details of the Live Well Locally supports and how to access them will be shared with local people as soon as possible.