Pressure on council to protect most vulnerable from no-deal Brexit price rises

Essex County Council has been urged to ensure the most vulnerable are not disproportionally impacted by Brexit.

The council (ECC) has drawn up detailed contingency plans for Brexit and any Essex preparations for potential disruptions – including how it will mitigate against impacts in the run up to a no deal Brexit on October 31.

These include issues around staff, employment and recruitment, procurement of goods and services, management of supply chain and services and finance, including EU funds and changes to legislation that local authorities use.

The council has said it did not identify significant risks or issues to providing services immediately after Brexit.

However, the council said it was revalidating assessments around regional labour markets, particularly in regards to social care, demands to increase Trading Standards supervision of changed markets, changes to the Essex economy reflected in council income and replacements for EU funds.

But Tory councillor Graham Butland said it was a concern that the most vulnerable needed special attention – especially in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He said: “If we have a no-deal Brexit food prices will increase, there is no doubt about that. Yellowhammer says that.

“Fuel prices will increase. There is no doubt about that. Because also of the potential changes in the pound.

“What are we as a local authority – or all local authorities, going to be doing, probably working with Department of Work and Pensions, to ensure that the most vulnerable people are going to be protected?

“And are we going to be making arrangements to take those sort of things into consideration if people fall into arrears with council tax?

“Because many of us will not notice what will happen because we are in a sufficiently strong enough position, to make with the odd bit, or to pay a bit more.

“But nowhere in any of this, not just locally but nationally, am I seeing anything about how we will protect the most vulnerable in society.”

Senior strategy adviser at Essex County Council, Rob Surtees, said: “In terms of Yellowhammer it does identify issues on food, it doesn’t identify issues in terms of fuel price.

“In terms of the impact of food price changes that’s an issue which we need to look at at a national level rather than a local level.

“In terms of management of council tax, we do not collect that so I can’t comment on that.”


Mick Ferris

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