This section highlights how councils are working with local partners to develop support schemes for residents struggling with the rise in the cost of living.
- Barnsley Council: Partnering to deliver the Household Support Fund
Barnsley Council has worked closely with their voluntary and community sector to deliver the Household Support Fund and have allocated some of the funding directly to community organisations who are developing sustainable approaches to the rising cost of living.
- Bath & North East Somerset Council: Community Wellbeing Hub
Bath and North East Somerset Council are continuing to mobilise their cross-partner Community Wellbeing Hub to support the most vulnerable residents, most recently addressing the pressures created by the cost of living crisis.
- Bristol City Council: Bristol’s One City Response
From March 2022, the Bristol City Council Neighbourhood and Communities service have convened staff from across the Council to understand the potential impacts of the rising cost of living on individuals and communities.
- Buckinghamshire Council: Strong partnership links to support those most in need
As a result of the pandemic and the financial difficulties being experienced by many, the government provided local authorities with grants to distribute to those most in need. Buckinghamshire Council set up a Helping Hand service to help administer the funds, working with partners in the voluntary and community sector to reach those really struggling.
- Hertfordshire County Council: Cost of Living Taskforce
In response to the growing pressures residents in Hertfordshire are facing, Hertfordshire County Council has established a ‘Cost of Living Taskforce’ which brings together representation from various service areas to coordinate how the organisation is supporting residents.
- Kent County Council: Strengthening referrals for financial advice and support
Kent County Council have worked to strengthen referrals across Kent for those in financial hardship to mitigate the action of signposting. ‘ReferKent’ has been introduced, which is an online platform that allows a simple, easy, and secure referrals to be made by organisations to one another. Supporting this, the Money Advice Network has also been implemented and gives the council the ability to directly refer to them.
- London Borough of Southwark: Partnering with the Money Adviser Network to reduce debts
Southwark Council partners with the Money Adviser Network, referring customers mainly for rent or council tax arrears. This provides immediate assistance, while building a picture of who in the borough is in particular need and plan support for the future.
- London Borough of Southwark: Worrying About Money tool
The Worrying About Money tool is an initiative of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) and was co-produced in conjunction with, Public Health Southwark, Citizens Advice, and a variety of other VCS partners. The online tool, that is also available as a downloadable leaflet, is available in multiple languages and has been co-designed as a simple and easy to use resource for people facing financial crisis, and those supporting them, to quickly see what advice and cash first support options are available in the local area.
The aim is to reduce the need for emergency food aid, and the impact of the cost of living crisis, by helping people access any existing financial entitlements and advice on income maximisation.
A launch event was held in November 2021 where partners presented on the development of the leaflet and the various services available through it. To further develop use of the leaflet, Southwark Council public health team funded Citizens Advice to train local frontline advice workers on how to best utilize the tool. Training materials were created in consultation with IFAN and Citizens Advice services in Scotland, who were already running their own ‘train the trainer courses’. To date, Citizens Advice have delivered six training sessions on the Worrying About Money leaflets to around 100 local frontline workers.
Partners have been careful to ensure the information contained in the training and tool is kept up to date as further financial support is announced at a national level to help with the cost of living crisis.
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets: Tower Hamlets Community Advice Network
Tower Hamlets Council worked with the Tower Hamlets Community Advice Network to launch a borough-wide referral system which links residents with a wide variety of local advice and support services.
- Maldon District Council: Storage container of household essentials
Maldon District Council worked with partners including Maldon & District Community and Voluntary Service to offer their local community an extensive storage container filled with household essentials.
- Merton Council: Cost of living events at local libraries
In July 2022 Merton Council ran a series of cost of living support events held at local libraries for residents concerned about rising living costs.
The council were joined by local partners to offer residents general advice and sign posting to organisations that are able to offer specialist one-on-one support. A selection of stallholders attended including Citizens Advice, Springfield Advice and Law Centre, DWP Job Centre, Wimbledon Guild, Croydon Plus Credit Union, Age UK Merton, Money and Pensions Service, Housing Advice, Thinking Works, Barclays Bank and Welfare Benefits.
All residents that attended were offered a £10 supermarket voucher that can be redeemed at locally to support the food economy and system in the borough.
- Newcastle City Council: Active Inclusion Newcastle
Active Inclusion Newcastle is a partnership approach developed as part of the Newcastle City Council 2013-16 budget setting process. It responds to the growth in demand for financial inclusion and homelessness prevention information, advice and support in the context of reduced funding. The service provides support for professionals, volunteers and Councillors who want to support Newcastle residents with housing, financial inclusion, and employment. As part of the service, the Council offers a free consultancy phone line for professionals, volunteers and Councillors to use, where they can seek advice from a specialist on debt, employment, or welfare rights.
- Norfolk County Council: A coordinated response to the cost of living crisis
Norfolk Council’s Welfare Rights Team, Money Support Service and Norfolk Assistance Scheme work together to help those in financial need.
- Norfolk County Council: Household Support Fund
Norfolk County Council has allocated a sum of their Household Support Fund to Norfolk Community Foundation, a charity dedicated to building stronger communities and improving the lives of people in Norfolk. Due to the charity’s connections with vulnerable households that are not connected to statutory, council-owned support, it was decided that this method of distribution would result in more people getting the support that they needed.
The Foundation was able to deliver £1 million in food and fuel aid to over 10,000 vulnerable households via grassroots voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises that operate in the community. It drew upon well-established relationships with hundreds of trusted, hyper-local VCSE partners to get the funding quickly and responsibly to many households that weren’t previously known to the council.
The Foundation’s in-depth community knowledge gave rise to creative solutions to maximise impact. For example, community supermarkets (which offer highly discounted food to vulnerable clients) used the £50-per-household payment to top up members’ accounts, allowing households to spend their credit on healthy and nutritious food.
- Nottinghamshire County Council: using internal communications for cost of living support
Nottinghamshire County Council have created a Yammer community to enable employees to share information on cost of living support that is available for service users.
- Plymouth City Council: Cost of living crisis task force
Plymouth have created a new multi-agency task force to coordinate a city-wide effort to provide support for residents impacted by the rising cost of living.
The task force, instigated by Councillor Rebecca Smith, Cabinet member for Homes and Communities, includes Plymouth’s Director of Public Health, Ruth Harrell and representatives from key agencies across the city.
The rising cost of living is an issue that is affecting many families, and we know it is a worrying time. There’s a lot of good work happening in Plymouth from organisations who provide advice and support, as well as practical help.
Councillor Rebecca Smith, Cabinet member for Homes and Communities
Plymouth city has committed to a joined up approach to tackle many of its challenges, as signalled by the Plymouth Plan.
Examples of initiatives to support residents include:
- wellbeing hubs (which offer debt and employment advice, mental health support, volunteer opportunities and signposting to other health services, voluntary and community sector activities)
- Plymouth Energy Community who offer advice and support to households struggling with fuel bills or poorly heated homes as well as signpost people to potential grants.
- Food Plymouth, and the Plymouth Food Aid Network work with partners to help people access food-related support such as food banks, food vouchers and eligibility for free school meals and other schemes.
- an online hub with information about a wide range of support available www.plymouthonlinedirectory.com/costoflivingsupport.
- Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead: Here to Help
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has responded proactively to the rising cost of living by leading an impactful campaign with community partners, highlighting the support that can help those struggling to cope to hopefully avoid the need for crisis support.
- Spelthorne Borough Council: Funding a Core Advice Service and dedicated caseworker
Spelthorne Borough Council provides grant funding to Citizens Advice Runnymede & Spelthorne for a Core Advice Service and dedicated Spelthorne case worker.
- Somerset Strategic Housing Group: Better futures for vulnerable people
Frustrated at the rising numbers of vulnerable people struggling to access homes and support that met their needs, the Somerset Strategic Housing Group decided they needed to crack the problem.
- Surrey County Council: Positive partnering with the Community Foundation for Surrey
Surrey County Council has worked in creative and proactive ways to develop a strong partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey to ensure resources are used in the best way, duplication is avoided, respective strengths are utilised and ultimately benefits for Surrey’s communities are maximised.