Following the Chancellor’s announcements in yesterday’s Autumn Statement, North Somerset Council has been reflecting on what this means for local people in the year ahead.

Headlines included an increase to the capped rate of housing benefit for tenants in private rented accommodation.

Cllr Mike Bell, Leader of the Council, said: “From April next year, the maximum amount of money people can receive in housing benefit and Universal Credit to support their rent payments will go up. This is a step in the right direction when so many are struggling to keep up with rising rents.

“However, the Chancellor has only promised this increase for a year, so unless things change, renters will begin to face similar issues again from April 2025.”

Today’s news also promised increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, reductions in the amount of National Insurance paid by working people and an increase of 8.5 per cent for state pension payments.

There was, however, no news on future cost-of-living payments which North Somerset Council has campaigned for to help people struggling with energy bills.

Cllr Bell added: “It’s really disappointing that the government hasn’t answered our call to protect low-income families from sky-high fuel bills. They promised to look at options like social tariffs in last year’s Autumn Statement but we are still yet to see anything materialise.”

There was also no news of fairer funding plans for the public sector to address more than a decade of austerity, making it challenging for North Somerset and other councils to set a balanced budget for the year ahead.

Cllr Bell explained: “We have worked really hard to identify further savings to help us towards a balanced budget for the year ahead, but still have a budget gap of £3.9m to close for 2024/25. I had hoped that the Chancellor would use today’s announcements to address the chronic under-funding of local government that we have experienced over successive governments, but this was conspicuous by its absence.

“As it is we have no indication of commitment on local government funding or announcements on council tax or social care precept which make our budget preparations for the year ahead even more challenging. We will continue to press the government for fair funding in the coming weeks.”

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, Deputy Leader of the Council, added: “Council finances all over the country are under immense pressure, and increasing need means that spending nationally on children’s social care has gone up by 13.6 per cent and on adult social care by 12.8 per cent, yet sadly, the Chancellor has offered no additional funding for local authorities to deal with these pressures, and make it easier for us to support children, young people, and vulnerable adults.”

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