Cost of living: Policy and strategy

This section outlines how councils are developing strategy and policies to tackle local inequalities and make sure the most vulnerable in society are supported with the rises in cost of living.

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Councils across the UK declaring cost of living emergencies

Councils across the UK have declared cost of living emergencies, including:

  • Ashfield District Council
  • Cambridge City Council
  • City of York Council
  • Cotswold District Council
  • East Riding Council
  • Hull City Council
  • Lewis District Council
  • Mendip District Council
  • Somerset and West Taunton Council
  • South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Stevenage Borough Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Wakefield Council
  • Watford Borough Council
  • Worthing Borough Council

An example of what this entails can be seen in Cambridge:

Cambridge City Council: Council sets out measures to support residents with cost of living emergency

Babergh Mid Suffolk Council: Cost of Living Coordinator

Babergh are in the process of appointing someone for a Cost of Living Coordinator role, becoming one of the first district councils to introduce a dedicated officer to oversee cost of living related workstreams.

This post will build on existing operations already have in place, including customer services, housing and welfare support and external partnerships, to ensure that all departments and stakeholders work effectively to meet the needs of the community. In exceptional circumstances, the post will also provide a case management function for households that are particularly hard hit by the rising costs.

The new officer will also coordinate implementation of the council’s new five point plan, which lays out a whole-systems approach to supporting residents and enabling individual and collective wellbeing through a suite of preventative measures.

Cost of Living Crisis Action Plan

Birmingham City Council: Food System Strategy

The Birmingham Food System Strategy is the city’s ambitious eight-year approach to creating a bold, sustainable, healthy and thriving food system.

Birmingham City Council: Food System Strategy 2022-2030

Cambridge City Council: Anti-Poverty Strategy

Cambridge took the decision to revise their poverty strategy based on an evolution of the council’s approach to addressing poverty and building on the learnings from services and recent delivered projects. It includes an action plan, which was created using evidence about poverty in Cambridge and by asking people living on low-incomes, and representatives of other public agencies and community and voluntary sector groups, what they felt the key issues were.

The Anti-Poverty Strategy has three key themes:

  • addressing the root causes of poverty through preventative activity, whilst also responding to the effects of poverty experienced by households in Cambridge
  • balancing direct delivery, partnership-working and influencing and lobbying work
  • building the capacity.

Cambridge City Council: Anti-Poverty Strategy

Cheshire West and Chester Council: ‘A Fairer Future’ strategy

Cheshire West and Chester Council declared a Poverty Emergency in October 2020, a concept that originated within Cheshire West and Chester Council. This motion was passed with strong cross-party support and resulted in the council becoming one of the first areas nationally to formalise this approach. The declaration highlighted important disparities between communities as well as the scale of poverty facing many residents and set out a radical new approach to tackle poverty. It also put forward a commitment to collaborate with partners and local people with lived and living experience of poverty, underpinned by a pro- active, evidence-based approach.

The ’A Fairer Future’ strategy encapsulates the progress that has been made since this and sets an ambition to reduce poverty over the next ten years. It underlines the councils’ commitment to hear the voices of people experiencing poverty, and to taking action on the issues raised.

A Poverty Truth Advisory Board (PTAB) has been established, with public, private, and civic sector representatives, as well as residents with lived and living experience of poverty. The Board is guiding the local response, including the development of the strategy, to seed permanent change and create a fairer future for all.

The foundation of the new A Fairer Future strategy is built upon three pillars:

  • Voice - hearing the voices of people experiencing poverty and acting to address issues they raise.
  • Alleviation - delivering urgent action to tackle the immediate consequences of poverty.
  • Root Cause - transforming society and the economy to tackle the underlying causes of poverty.

Fairer future strategy (cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk)

Bassetlaw District Council: Leading a place-based response

Bassetlaw District Council has identified the cost of living crisis as the biggest current threat to its communities, revised its Corporate Plan to reflect this situation and reallocated the use of reserves to match this commitment.

Bassetlaw District Council: Leading a place-based response

Blackpool Council: Financial Inclusion Strategy

Blackpool are responding to the cost of living with a new Financial Inclusion Strategy, which aims to improve financial inclusion across the town by bringing local organisations together to share understanding of the issues and tackle the effects. It is hoped that approaches and ambitions laid out in the strategy will strengthen communities and individuals’ resilience to financial shocks.

Draft Financial Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027 (blackpool.gov.uk)

City of Wolverhampton Council: Financial Wellbeing Strategy

Wolverhampton has developed a new Financial Wellbeing Strategy to support economically vulnerable residents. The Council has committed £1.1 million for this financial year, alongside grant funding through the Household Support Fund, to help reduce socioeconomic inequalities in the city. The strategy focuses on core areas where improvement is required, such as through financial responsibility, tackling food and fuel poverty, improving access to financial information, building awareness to promote behaviour change and working with people to maximise money and opportunities.  

City Of Wolverhampton Council: Financial Wellbeing Strategy

Hertfordshire County Council: Cost of living behavioural insights resources   

Hertfordshire have created a guide to provide practical and evidence-based behavioural science recommendations that can help local authorities to support their residents with the significant pressures caused by the increased cost-of-living.  

The briefing can help: 

  • Provide evidence-based advice rooted in the behavioural and social sciences, highlighting what local authorities can do to support their residents. Key recommendations for action and next steps to support residents will be presented. 
  • Identify the groups in society that are most likely to be affected and how the increased cost-of-living will impact on them, thus exacerbating societal and health inequalities. 

Supporting residents with the increased cost-of-living: Behavioural science (hertfordshire.gov.uk)

Leeds City Council: New cost of living breakthrough priority introduced

The Best City Ambition is a vision aimed at making the Leeds fair, sustainable and inclusive, for all that live there by 2030. Tackling poverty and inequality underpin the vision which focuses on three main areas of action, health and wellbeing, inclusive growth, and zero carbon.

In 2022 Leeds established five new breakthrough priorities, including ‘Responding to the cost of living crisis’. Through this addition to the Vision, Leeds have formally committed to ‘Working together across sectors to harness the capacity and capability in the city, its communities and those with lived experience to develop a city solution to welfare provision and addressing the cost of living crisis – with a specific focus on food, fuel, housing and digital inclusion.’

A diverse group of people will be drawn from different service areas, public and private organisations, and communities, to agree a clear set of objectives and ways of working to deliver on creating a welfare provision system that reduces fuel and food poverty, alleviates housing the housing crisis, and promotes better digital skills and access. 

Working with local citizens from all backgrounds and listening to the voices of people with lived experience is a crucial part of the vision and is seen as integral to its success. 

Best City Ambition (leeds.gov.uk)

LGA: Support for people with a learning disability

The LGA Care and Health Improvement Programme (CHIP) has produced specific tips and resources that will be useful for council staff who need to support people with a learning disability or autistic people during the pressures caused by the rising cost of living.

Cost of living and support for people with a learning disability or autistic people

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.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead: Here to Help

Salford City Council: The Salford Way

Salford’s trailblazing initiative, The Salford Way, was launched by the City Mayor one year ago. It highlights the city’s ambitions as a leader in building a fairer, greener and healthier city for all.

Salford City Council: The Salford Way

Trafford Council: Trafford Poverty Strategy

Trafford have taken an integrated approach to addressing the cost of living pressures and have made supporting people out of hardship one of their main corporate priorities.

The Trafford Poverty Strategy 2022-2025 has been developed in partnership with Trafford Poverty Action Group and the Council’s Poverty Truth Commission, which brings people experiencing poverty and decision makers together to co-design meaningful and effective policies.  and pulls together our work on creating an inclusive economy, improving access to information and advice, maximising household income, supporting children and young people, and building community resilience.

Trafford Poverty Strategy 2022-2025

Walsall Councils: Cumulative Equality Impact Assessment

After recognising flaws, Walsall Council took steps to significantly improve its equality impact assessment processes.

Walsall Council: Cumulative Equality Impact Assessment

West Northamptonshire Council: Anti-Poverty Strategy

West Northamptonshire's new Anti-Poverty Strategy sets out how the council will work with partners to support people struggling financially, what will be done to stop people falling into poverty and how the council will work to influence Government and other national organisations to get the best deal for the community. The strategy also involved input from a Poverty Truth Commission that included people who are living through the experience of poverty. This important insight is likely to increase the value and impact the strategy has for the community.

Tackling poverty in West Northants | West Northamptonshire Council

Westminster City Council

In response to the cost of living crisis, Westminster launched a cost of living strategy in July 2022. This includes an eight point package built around three pillars:

  • targeting an initial £5.5m package of support to help families in Westminster that are struggling with the rising cost of living
  • working with partners to ensure that the Council coordinates and maximises their impact
  • making sure residents have the information they need to access all the support on offer to them.

Cost of living support hub and strategy | Westminster City Council