- Typical family in Eastbourne is set to pay an extra £107.70 in national insurance contributions (NICs) this year as cost of living crunch hits.
- Local businesses are also set to feel the squeeze with £7,188,068 tax hit.
- Lib Dems demand emergency VAT tax cut to put money back in the pockets of struggling families.
Families and businesses in Eastbourne & Willingdon are facing a £11,980,113 tax bombshell this year due to the Conservative hike to national insurance, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.
National Insurance payments went up this week (April 6) from 12.5% to 13.25%, after Boris Johnson’s decision to break a Conservative manifesto promise and hike the tax.
The latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility predict that the country is facing a £10.9 billion tax hit this year from the move, with around 40% of this being paid by workers and the rest by businesses.
It means that families in the Eastbourne & Willingdon area are set to pay out an estimated £4,792,045 more in National Insurance contributions, or an average of £107.70 each, at a time when families are already facing soaring heating bills.
The Conservatives’ broken promise is also set to hit the high street in Eastbourne hard, with a £7,188,068 tax raid on local businesses including shops, restaurants and cafes.
Eastbourne & Willingdon Liberal Democrats have set out plans to “kill two birds with one stone,” by slashing the top rate of VAT to 17.5% this year. The move would save families an average of £600 and give businesses a boost by encouraging spending and keeping prices low. The party has put the issue at the heart of their cost of living campaign which launched this week.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Eastbourne & Willingdon, Josh Babarinde OBE, said:
“Families in our area are being crippled by the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, struggling to put food on the table and afford sky-high energy bills.
“The last thing they need is an unfair tax raid. Yet the Conservatives are piling on the misery by breaking their promise not to hike up national insurance, in a move that will hit our community hard.
“Local elections around the country are an opportunity to send a message to this Conservative government that they can’t afford to take people anywhere in the country for granted any longer.
“The Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fair deal that would put money back into people’s pockets through an emergency tax cut. Our plans would kill two birds with one stone, helping those struggling to make ends meet while giving our treasured local businesses the shot in the arm they need.”
One of the biggest concerns for most people at present is the alarming rise in the cost of living. The current rate of inflation is 6.2% way above the Bank of England target of 2% and this is likely to go even higher when the energy cap is lifted by 54% from the 1st April, with another large increase predicted in October. This is coupled with the increase of 1.25% in National Insurance rates from 6th April and spiralling prices at the fuel pumps means that we are likely to suffer the greatest drop in the standard of living since the 1950s.
Last week, the Chancellor announced a reduction of 5p in fuel duty in order to ease the burden, but in reality he could have done much more. Taxation on fuel comes in two forms, firstly there is the duty which accounts for approximately a third of the cost. This is what has been reduced by 5p per litre, but then the total cost including this is taxed again in the form of VAT, so even with this cut, Government will see their income from petrol and diesel increase. In addition to this, the documents on the Chancellor’s spring statement reveal a huge windfall for the government of £7.6 billion which is a result of his freezing the tax threshold. This is the lower limit of earnings at which tax needs to start being paid and this would normally be increased along with inflation. Surely a more practical way that he could have helped the hard-pressed consumer would have been to reduce the level of VAT, thus easing the burden on most of our spending.
When money is tight charities find it much harder to obtain donations. One such charity which is finding the going tough at present is Eastbourne Foodbank. They are experiencing a massive stock shortage, as demand has increased by 78% compared to last year. They would really appreciate your help. It is easy to donate as most supermarkets have collection points for donations and just one donated item of tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned rice pudding or deodorant will make a massive difference. Please help them if you can afford to do so – Thank you.
Your Old Town and Upperton Lib Dem teams have been working hard to secure the future of the well-loved Motcombe pool.
In the last few months, led by Councillors Peter Diplock and Robin Maxted, and supported by the
local community, we have:
• Formed Motcombe Community Pool CIC;
• Further protected the pool by seeking to register it as an asset of community value;
• Secured funding of £200k from Eastbourne Borough Council;
• Connected with Saltdean Lido;
• Spoken with numerous stakeholders, partners and groups about further funding;
• Launched our website: www.motcombepool.org;
• Organised an Open Day at the pool taking place on 28th April.
The pool has been closed since the onset of the pandemic, mainly due to the impossibility of
making such a small space Covid- safe.
During this time we took the opportunity to run a full survey of the pool and the building itself. Built in 1904, and now over 120 years old, the pool needs a complete overhaul.
With Eastbourne Borough Council's government revenue grant cut from over £10m a year in 2010 to zero now, finding resources to maintain all our assets has been and continues to be a challenge. The future for
Motcombe pool is best secured through the creation of a CIC, seeking funding from the full range
of available of sources, and putting residents at the heart of its future.
Alongside this, we are looking at creating a charitable trust to run alongside the CIC, opening up yet
more potential sources of funding.
As well as the £200k secured from the Borough Council, we have also obtained a further £10k from
the Borough to assist in obtaining grant funding. The example of Saltdean Lido over the last seven
years, from closure to imminent reopening, after gaining funding of circa £7m, shows that this
model works and reopening a refurbished Motcombe pool can be done.
We need you!
We are holding an Open Day at the pool on 28th April. We won’t be able to access the main pool
area due to health and safety reasons, but please do come down and find out more about what
happens next. You’ll be able to see some of the history of the pool; see some of the challenges we
need to overcome; find out about the journey of Saltdean Lido over the last few years; and find out
about how you can get involved in restoring this much loved community asset for future
If you’re interested in finding out more, visit our website at www.motcombepool.org
and sign up for further details.
Recent months have seen an increase in vandalism along the much loved Albert Parade, with several shops having their windows broken late at night. Councillor Peter Diplock visited the affected shops and spoke with residents to see some of the damage for himself. Following discussion with the community policing team, we have asked for an increase in patrols to take place, and a review of the incidents to date will be made.
Councillor Peter Diplock said,
“This kind of anti-social behaviour isn’t what we expect in Old Town. Local businesses have a tough enough time as it is, and we’re here to support them. The local community policing team do a fantastic job, but with the cuts they've faced over the last decade, their job is a difficult one. I would encourage anyone with any information to call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.”
Old Town councillors were pleased to support the call for more 20 mph zones around schools, playgrounds and other key areas. With so many local schools here in Old Town, anything we can do to make our streets safer and encourage walking and cycling is welcomed.
Councillor Amanda Morris said,
“East Sussex has one of the highest killed and seriously injured statistics in the country. Reducing speeds to 20mph near schools and in areas where there are more younger and vulnerable residents makes perfect sense.”
This mirrors the call by Liberal Democrats across the country to reduce speeds to improve safety. Although the most recent vote was supported by some Conservative councillors at the Borough Council, several of the same Conservative councillors voted against it at the County Council.
Councillor Jonathan Dow said,
“20mph as the maximum limit is the safe option for roads around our schools and elsewhere in Old Town. It’s time for County Hall to act to make our streets safer.”
Your Old Town Lib Dems are campaigning to save local specialist services at the DGH. Health bosses are considering moving Cardiology services away from the DGH. We’ve already lost 24/7 children’s services and maternity services, and we say enough is enough!
Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson and local Councillor Josh Babarinde OBE tabled a Borough Council motion to oppose the plans. This was supported unanimously by fellow Lib Dems. Councillor Peter Diplock said,
“I think it’s wrong for even more DGH services to move to Hastings, and most Old Town residents would agree. I’m disappointed that some Conservative councillors refused to back the motion, but I’m proud to stand up for our local hospital, and fight to keep services here.”
Whatever happened to the brand new hospital we were promised at the last election? All we seem to be hearing is that health services in our town are at risk.
The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Spring Statement as a "massive missed opportunity" to help families in Eastbourne.
The party has called for the standard rate of VAT to be reduced from 20% to 17.5% for one year. It comes after the Chancellor's lacklustre Spring Statement failed to adequately protect local families from soaring bills and the Conservatives' worsening cost of living crisis.
The Lib Dem plans would support the economy by boosting spending on local high streets. The proposals would also be expected to keep inflation down by making the prices of everyday items lower than they would have been.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Eastbourne, Josh Babarinde OBE, said:
"People across our community were looking to Rishi Sunak yesterday for a helping hand in facing this once in a generation cost of living crisis. Eye-watering price hikes are leaving many in Eastbourne struggling to make ends meet.
"This was crunch time for the Chancellor and the Conservatives, and they haven't stepped up to the mark. It's families in Eastbourne, who they have clobbered with unfair tax hikes, and who'll pay the price for this massive missed opportunity.
"Rishi Sunak should stop putting his pride before people, scrap his punishing tax hikes, and back Liberal Democrat calls for an emergency cut to VAT. This would put £16,740,000 back into the pockets of 27,900 people in our area and support our local shops, cafes and restaurants."
Sadly, we continue to witness the destruction of the Ukraine on a daily basis. The events are truly horrific, and I am sure that we all want to do everything that we can to help those who are fleeing from their homes and are seeking safe refuge in Britain and other countries. I know that many people are keen to offer accommodation to displaced Ukrainian nationals and I am regularly asked questions about how the support will operate in the UK. This will involve a number of different agencies, including health; children’s services at the County Council; housing and community services at the Borough; business and voluntary organisations and of course Government departments. The plans which are being drawn up by the Government are filtering down to local Councils and those in East Sussex are working together to ensure a consistent approach across the county. In order to share information as fast as possible, the Borough Council have created a dedicated webpage for information on support for the Ukraine and this can be found at https://www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/community/ukraine-crisis-support-available-and-ways-to-help/
Last week, I received a communication from the Post Office informing me that they are intending to close the Sub Post Office at 326 Seaside and asking me if I wanted to respond to the consultation on the closure. This I have done, objecting strongly to the proposal as this office serves a large community in the Roselands, Archery and Seaside area and has done for many years. The current office has been there for decades and opened to replace the old office which was on the opposite side of the road. I have also offered to work with them to identify a fresh location within the Roselands area if this is causing them a problem. In fairness to the Post Office, they are planning to open a new office linked to a shop at 204 Seaside and I have no objection to this happening, but this is a fair distance away and I do object to it being at the expense of the existing facility. The consultation runs until 26 April and can be accessed online at https://www.postofficeviews.co.uk/national-consultation-team/seaside-326-bn22-7rh-214907-1/ if you have strong views on this issue, please spare a couple of minutes to respond, it just might make all the difference.
During the past week, the new Council Tax bills have been dropping on our doormats. The money that we pay in Council Tax is split between four different authorities. The vast majority: 73.35% goes to East Sussex County Council, who have increased their income by 4.5%. Smaller amounts go to Eastbourne Borough Council, who get 11.90% and the East Sussex Fire Authority who take 4.53%. Both of these organisations have raised their income by 2%, whilst the remaining 10.22% goes to the Police and Crime Commissioner, a 4.7% increase.
Several people have already contacted me to ask about the Council Tax Rebate Scheme announced recently by the Government. The Borough Council will soon be administering this scheme which comes into effect on 1 April. It is designed to support households within Council Tax bands A-D to help towards the increasing cost of energy bills. All entitled households will receive the one-off payment of £150, which will not need to be repaid. The rebate will be paid directly into bank accounts so if you don’t already pay your Council tax by direct debit, you might want to sign up to ensure you are paid as quickly as possible.
If you live in a band E to H property you are not eligible under the core scheme, you may however be able to make a claim for a rebate under the Discretionary Fund. The council will release further details on how the scheme will work and will give more information once the scheme has been finalised and approved.
If you would like to know more about the scheme, please visit our website lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/council-tax/energy-rebate-scheme/
Housing is a big issue for the Borough Council, both in terms of ensuring that there is affordable accommodation available for local people and in order to meet the house building targets set for us by the Government. I was therefore delighted to attend the opening of ‘The Foundry,’ which is the Council’s first modular development. Situated at the Seaside end of Langney Road, this project which has created 12 apartments was constructed by Newhaven based company ‘Boutique Modern’ and replaces a row of derelict, empty shops. The project which used local subcontractors and purchased from local suppliers will provide accommodation for key workers in the town. It has also made a big difference to that part of Langney Road.
News of the Russian attacks on Ukraine brings fresh horror with every day that passes. We realise that we are witnessing a country being destroyed by relentless bombardment whilst the Ukrainian people refuse to be bowed as they seek to defend their homeland. It must be clear to everyone now, including President Putin, that his claim that the Ukrainians were waiting to be liberated is wholly untrue. The stories that are being reported cannot fail to cause anger, fear and sadness, as we see women and children who are trying to escape to safety coming under attack and missiles flying towards nuclear reactors. Whilst we can only speculate where this may end, the immediate challenges for the west are to do all that it can to get aid into the country and find a safe haven for the millions of refugees who have been displaced from their homes. I may be wrong, but it feels as if the UK has been slow to get the refugee programme underway. The need is both immediate and desperate and so I hope that our government will remove any red tape that is causing delays and ensure that we, together with other European countries, provide a welcome for those who have lost so much.
Turning to events at home, Eastbourne is blessed with having many excellent charities and voluntary organisations. One of these is ‘People Matter’ who have a great track record of helping people who may have found it hard to find employment, prepare for interviews and acquire new skills. They have also done much to help local businesses find suitable employees. On 29 March, they are organising a Jobs Fair, entitled ‘Opening Doors,’ at the Town Hall between 09.30-16.00. If you are seeking employment why not look in. You do not need an appointment; you can simply turn up and it is free to attend. There will be an opportunity to meet potential employers and get advice on training opportunities and financial incentives. People Matter are a friendly team who I know will be happy to help you.