Merton Council has announced a cost-of-living emergency following a unanimous vote at its regular Full Council meeting, following an earlier announcement of a £2million fund to help those hardest-hit.
The council will convene a summit of local voluntary and support organisations to discuss the best ways to support residents, including additional financial support and services.
It will also continue to provide free school meals to eligible families throughout the summer, and work to ensure all employers in the borough pay the national living wage.
The news comes ahead of the council’s first cost of living support event this weekend at Morden library, where residents will be able to access a range of advice on benefits, housing and local voluntary support, as well as receiving supermarket vouchers to spend locally.
Three events are being run in total across Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon, with full details available on the council’s cost of living hub at www.merton.co.uk/costofliving
Council Leader Ross Garrod said: “Hiking the cost cap for energy in April has cost the average family £700 a year in increased fuel bills. Just a few weeks later, National Insurance was raised by this Government, adding even more pressure.
“For thousands of families in Merton, that’s just too much to absorb. Even at low estimates, this rise will be putting at least 15,000 local families under serious pressure trying to make ends meet, and probably far more.
“By recognising across the council that we are now facing a very real emergency, we hope to be able to deliver even more support through our voluntary sector partners, while using the emergency fund to directly target those most in-need.”
The council already runs one of the most generous council tax support schemes in London, and will also write to the Government to seek additional support to help schools and local sports clubs as they face significant rises in the energy costs required to keep running.