Town council set up poverty fund

People in Whitby who find themselves in financial hardship may soon be able to apply to the town council for help.

It is set to decide a portion of its budget to be put aside to create a ‘hardship’ fund which people can apply to for cash grants.

However, there is concern about the legalities involved in handing out money and how it would judge the merit of people’s applications.

Coun Amanda Smith said: “The idea that we had was as a result of the flooding and that maybe it would be a good idea for the town council to have a budget set aside that people can apply for when they find themselves in times of great need.”

She told a meeting that while there are other agencies helping those in need such as the Whitby Foodbank, Yorkshire Coast Homes and Citizens Advice Bureau the town council would be the last port of call.

But town clerk, Pam Dobson said there were concerns that needed looking at before the scheme could go ahead which would be done by the finance committee.

She said: “We don’t have the ability to judge whether someone’s application to us is valid or not. How do we measure that?

“It has to be a referral from somewhere else such as Yorkshire Coast Homes or the Foodbank.”

But new councillor, Derek Robinson said it was more worthy a cause than handing out grants for sports equipment which it already does.

He added: “When I was on the council previously there were hardship grants.

“We can grant an application for a sports club but are not prepared to accept an application for food. I can’t think of a more dire emergency.”