Leader's blog - 18 November 2022

This week, the leader of the council talks about the autumn statement, a domestic abuse campaign running during the World Cup and the ongoing work the council is doing to support struggling families.

Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council sat in a chair with our coat of arms behind him.

Yesterday’s national autumn statement announced by the Chancellor was disappointing but not unexpected. With a net reduction in funding announced and the onus on local Government to deliver council tax rises and significant cuts in services to balance the books, we have some difficult decisions ahead of us. Our core grant will be frozen which is a cut in real terms and means we will have to cut services and find further savings over the next few years just to meet the inflationary pressures we face which are currently running at 11%, and to cover new announcements such as the increase to the national living wage which comes at a cost to the council. This all comes on top of over a decade of austerity where councils have borne the brunt of huge reductions in funding with services and facilities up and down the country already cut to the bone as a result.

As Leader of the Council, I am determined that we remain focussed on protecting the most vulnerable residents of our City through our Adult and Children’s Social Care Services, on which currently approximately 60% of the Council’s money is spent and which is continuing to rise.

Once the clocks go back and the darker nights draw in, it makes me want to hunker down at home with my family. As the World Cup starts, I hope I can enjoy watching England win in the safety of my home. However, home is not always safe for everyone and during national and global sporting events such as the World Cup, there is a spike in the number of domestic abuse incidents that takes place.

Unfortunately, some adults take their frustrations from the game, and let it out on members of their family. Whatever type of abuse it may be, physical, verbal, mental or financial, treating others in this way is never ok. But there is help available. If you are in immediate danger and feel your life or someone else’s life is under threat, please call 999 immediately. If it is not an emergency, please call the freephone domestic abuse number on 0800 3580351 for advice, guidance and help.

I have talked a lot in recent weeks about the cost-of-living crisis, but no matter how much help you need, it is on hand in Southend. There are so many organisations and charitable people doing amazing work in the city at the moment to help those who are struggling. For the council’s part, alongside the cost-of-living pages you can find on our website, we have used the information to produce a printed booklet for those who do not access to the internet. You can get these booklets from the Civic Centre, libraries and other outlets to be announced soon.

And lastly, I hope the final night of the Saturday Southend BID fireworks goes off with a bang! It coincides with the official Southend-on-Sea Christmas light switch-on, also organised by Southend BID. It promises to be a fun-filled night to kick off the Christmas season in style, with Jordan Gray, British comedian and actress throwing the switch and you can find out more details from the Southend BID website.

So, although the nights might be getting darker and times harder, at least you can be reassured that there’s always light and friendly support if you know where to look.

Have a lovely weekend and stay safe.

Published: 18th November 2022

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