Colwyn Bay... Salaried £56,700 A Year Council Leader Cllr McCoubrey raises concerns over cost-of-living crisis!

How caring of him! McCoubrey took a whopping £6,700 a year pay rise this year!

Maybe the council needs to make some cuts to their large salaries and close Bodlondeb and move everyone to the Coed Pella offices, which are empty, and also the Mochdre building, and let others work from home.

If the cost-of-living crisis facing residents is the newly elected council’s biggest challenge, the council needs to do its bit!

Conwy’s leader says the cost-of-living crisis facing residents is the newly elected council’s biggest challenge. But Cllr Charlie McCoubrey says certain groups of struggling residents will soon be able to apply for payment as part of a £1m discretionary cost-of-living fund as inflation worsens.

Conwy councilors agreed that council tax would rise by 3.95% in March, but the price of food, petrol, gas, water, and electricity has rocketed in recent weeks, partly due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Cllr McCoubrey says the situation is precariously difficult for the council to manage.

“In common with all councils, the cost-of-living crisis for our residents is obviously a real concern,” said Cllr McCoubrey. “Inflationary rise is about 10% and will have a massive impact on what we can deliver.

“So we are in a situation where our costs will rise and the ability of residents to pay their council tax is really heavily constrained, so it’s always a challenge, the budget, but I think this year will be as challenging as any we have had in the past. We have that need to keep the council tax as low as possible, but we also have to look after the most vulnerable. That’s always a balance for us.”

Already Conwy has paid out around 24,000 £150 council tax rebate payments on behalf of the government to ease the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The payments were handed out to all those living in council tax bands A – D.

But around 13,000 payments in Conwy remain outstanding, due to those residents not paying by direct debit. The council is currently paying these through the Post Office.

But many other people aren’t eligible, either because they live in a higher band of property or perhaps in accommodation that is exempt from council tax.

Cllr McCoubrey said a discretionary cost-of-living scheme would soon be available for struggling residents to apply for. “Obviously we’ve released the £150 to everybody in bands A - D,” he said.

“But there is the discretionary cost-of-living scheme as well, which is just under a million pounds. That will be coming to cabinet in a week or two, just looking at where we target those that missed out because it (the £150) is quite a blunt instrument, isn’t it, so there are proposals coming there for those who missed out essentially.

“That will be for groups like for people living in houses of multiple occupations who don’t pay council tax. We also want to make sure our revenue and benefits team are well funded, in terms of they’re the people who make sure that people are claiming all the benefits that they need.

“There are lots of people who have never been in this situation that have never needed this kind of help before. So they don’t necessarily know where to go.

“It is quite difficult to appreciate. You could be living in a big house in Deganwy and still struggle and not have access to that (funds)." He added: “So we want to make sure we’ve got a really good safety net there for people. It will be a range of different benefits. It won’t necessarily be £150. The details will be at the cabinet soon.

“It is (about) two things, targeted support for those who need it, but also considering those key teams who look after people, moving forward, and have got a band of resources to make sure they can access benefits they are entitled to.”