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Protection for vulnerable people and Essex Innovation Challenge Prize announced

Politics / Tue 10th Feb 2015 at 05:19pm

FUNDING to maintain a safety net for vulnerable people in crisis situations and to encourage communities to help deliver solutions to the challenges faced by the county’s public services have been announced today (Tuesday) by Essex County Council.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch, announced the continuing support for the Essential Living Fund and the new Essex Innovation Challenge Prize as part of his budget speech at Full Council.

The Council has saved £450 million over the last four years and needs to save at least £190 million – nearly £200,000 a day – by April 2018.

The Council is now setting up a £1 million Essex Innovation Challenge Prize to encourage communities and council employees help develop solutions to some of the most difficult challenges facing councils, health services and other public sector organisations across the county. Full details of the Essex Innovation Challenge Prize will be announced in the near future.

Cllr Finch said: “We strive for continual innovation in everything we do, it is at the heart of our success story. We want to continue this success to be the most innovative council in the country.

“We fully recognise we do not have all of the answers. Through this prize we will tap into the wealth of knowledge and creativity that exists in our great county to support people to live full, independent and productive, lives from infancy to later years.”

Essential Living Fund is the county’s local welfare assistance scheme offering non-cash support, through food parcels and items like furniture, to individuals and their families who are in crisis or extreme need.

The Council has set aside £1.5 million to ensure the scheme, which has supported more than 14,000 households over the last two years, continues in 2015/2016.

Cllr Finch said: “It is with great pride that I announce we are continuing the Essential Living Fund to support the most vulnerable people in our communities, despite a decrease in funding from the government.

“The Fund will continue to support food banks and charities and provide practical help for Essex residents, including those with young children and people trying to stay in work, but struggling with the cost of living.

“We are also looking across all of our portfolios and working with partners to develop a strategy to support children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Today’s Full Council meeting also agreed plans to freeze the Council Tax for the fifth successive year, and invest £272 million next year into improving the county’s roads, creating new school places and helping vulnerable people live as independently as possible.

It also backed the Council’s ambitions to invest more than £1 billion to support schemes across the county over the next five years – dependent on government funding and the Council continuing its disciplined approach to managing its finances.

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