Issue - items at meetings - Cost of Living Funding Proposal

Issue - meetings

Cost of Living Funding Proposal

Meeting: 13/03/2024 - Cabinet (Item 94)

94 Cost of Living Funding Proposal pdf icon PDF 228 KB


The Head of Community and Housing Services presented the Cost of Living Funding proposal for Cabinet’s consideration. In doing so, Members’ attention was drawn to the following:


·       In 2020-21 the Council allocated £50,000 to support the Community Hubs initiative.  Further allocations were made in 2021-22 and 2022-23 equalling a total budget of £150,000.  It was confirmed that this budget was currently sat in earmarked reserves.

·       In February 2020 the budget was approved by Cabinet as a revenue bid to support the development of the Worcestershire County Council (WCC) Community Hubs in libraries initiative across the District.  

·       Following a new direction of travel by WCC, this budget was never provided to the County Council.  Therefore, the £150,000 funding remained within reserves.

·       Due to the Cost of Living crisis, it was agreed that the needs of local residents needed to be better understood. Therefore, a multi-agency Cost of Living Group was established with partners such as WCC, Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT) and other partners. Following discussions at this group, two surveys were carried out, in order to better understand the specific needs of local communities. The findings from the survey highlighted that the crisis was affecting a broad range of residents not just those on benefits or a lower income. It also established that financial management advice might ease the pressure on residents but that this could not be the only solution. It was suggested that there needed to more information and support provided to mortgage holders who were struggling with their mortgages, those who had faced food insecurity in the last six months and those residents who had gone without essentials, such as shower or cleaning items including clothes.


In considering the outcomes of the survey, the Cost-of-Living Group determined that there was a need for additional debt advice workers to work across agencies and within local communities for a fourteen month trial period. The focus of the additional workers would be as follows:


·       Specialist housing adviser who delivered housing advice directly.

·       Voluntary sector money adviser to help residents improve their well-being when faced with financial difficulties.

·       Enhancement of the support of the Financial Inclusion Team.


This trial period would also provide the opportunity to inform a lottery bid by the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to continue this work in the future. It was clarified that if the lottery bid was successful any monies not spent on the trial project would be put back in to reserves and reallocated.


Following the presentation of the report Members discussed the allocation of funds to each new role and queried why the amount outlined in the report equated to only £126,000 rather that the full amount of £150,000. It was confirmed that the amounts contained within the report were per annum and as the trial period took place over fourteen months the outstanding amount of £24,000 would cover the final two months of the roles. There was a suggestion that the outstanding amount could potentially be utilised to support local food  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94