COUNCILS across Cumbria are fighting hard to protect families from the worst possible outcomes of the cost-of-living crisis while fuel prices threaten to rise to £2 a litre.

Cumbria County Council’s leadership launched a new £2 million Cost of Living Reserve last week, responding to soaring prices, which are exacerbating the challenges some families were already facing.

Leader of the council Stewart Young said that “despite cuts to our budget” the authority has allocated as much money as it can to support families in Cumbria.

The £2 million reserve is split into four funding streams of £0.5 million each including: supporting the council’s Ways to Welfare budget, clothing grants for schools and the extension of free school meal provision.

Another £0.5 million has been earmarked to for direct community support, including the bulk purchasing of food, making up for a shortfall in foodbank donations.

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Lisa Brown, director of Carlisle Community Help – an affordable food hub, has said that any support local authorities can offer will be vital as appeals for support have doubled in the last two months.

She said: “We’ve got a lot more registrations. We have seen an increase in the emails, the amount of people signing up and asking how things work.

“It’s doubled in the last two months, we’ve got Riverside Housing Association that have just bought £1,000 of vouchers to give out to residents.”

Carlisle Community Help is a network of food hubs across the city, giving residents a choice of a range of items from their stocks for a low set price each week.

READ MORE: Council to address issue of domestic abuse in Carlisle

“I think all the pandemic did was accelerate these issues by a couple of years, the decline of the high street, people losing hours, it’s like it’s been on fast forward.

“I think it’s just sped up a situation that was already heading towards us anyway. It’s not going to be fixed by free food, it’s rising wages.”

As well as a director at Carlisle Community Help, she is also the deputy leader of the new Cumberland Council.

Councillor Brown said that “local councils are left to pick up the pieces” in areas like Cumbria.

“It’s going to take a massive change but I’m excited about the new council. This is where councillors come into their own, the voice of communities, community representatives because we talk to so many people all the time.”

Cumbria County Council's Local Committee for Carlisle heard in May that domestic abuse in the area rose during lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The leader of the county council expressed concerns that the pressures and stresses of cost of living could also create a hostile environment in some homes.

It was revealed on Monday that the UK economy contracted 0.3 per cent in April just as energy bills rose alongside taxes.

Economists have expressed fears of an economy but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been quick to reassure the public that economic growth is a top priority. Michael Gove has also hinted at new support to curb the rising cost of fuel.