Agenda item

Cost of Living

A paper describing existing support activity and presenting options for what more the Council could do to support residents.


Portfolio Holder – Councillor Heather Timms


Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture) introduced this paper which set out the support activity that already existed for those members of the community needing support due to the cost of living crisis, and presented a support package which could be summarised into three main areas:


  • allocation of the Government funded Household Support Fund (HSF) via the Local Welfare Scheme – circa £3.473 m.
  • delivery of a Council funded support package of up to £1million one off funding, funded from the Revenue and Investment Fund; and 
  • a range of extended support which could be delivered within existing available budgets based on repurposing and reprioritisation of existing resources.


Councillor Timms welcomed the proposals which aligned with the council’s community powered approach.


Councillor Isobel Seccombe noted that Cabinet had been aware that this report was coming forward when the topic was debated at Council on 29 September 2022.  She advised that a meeting had taken place with district and borough leaders and chief executives and that a Summit was being planned to take place in the near future.  Councillor Seccombe referenced the creation of an online signposting facility and also noted that discussions with town and parish councils were being facilitated by Warwickshire Association of Local Councils (WALC) and efforts were being made to reach all areas.


Councillor Sarah Boad welcomed the report, applauding the role of community pantries and warm hubs.  Referencing the desire to set up an online signposting facility, Councillor Boad noted that not all residents could access the internet, or only had intermittent access due to mobile phone credit running out.   She welcomed the summit and efforts to reduce duplication of information.  In conclusion, Councillor Boad requested that Members receive regular updates on progress and any specific events in their divisions.


Councillor Sarah Feeney welcomed the commitment to extend the community supermarket scheme and lamented that such facilities were required.  She similarly welcomed support for county foodbanks and the linkage with energy costs as she noted that foodbanks were now making different types of provision depending on whether the recipient had the means to cook.  She also applauded the promotion of credit unions but recognised that not all residents would meet credit union criteria. 


Councillor Andy Jenns noted that fuel poverty was a real concern and welcomed the use of libraries as warm hubs, where people could use internet facilities whilst they were visiting.  He suggested that some consideration could be given to extending opening hours and noted work was taking place with community groups to open up facilities in villages where there were no council buildings.  Councillor Jenns also noted the impact of the crisis on local village stores.


Councillor Seccombe noted the comments that had been made regarding the provision of facilites in rural villages and ensuring access to inexpensive food supplies.  She considered that the pandemic had equipped the Council to understand how to identify vulnerable people in the community.


Councillor Heather Timms advised that the community pantry initiative had taken a lot of planning and commended the foresight that had been shown in bringing the project to bear.  She recognised  the need to be inclusive and that organisations would be encouraged to take part in the proposed Summit which she noted was likely to take place in November 2022. 




That Cabinet:


  1. Supports the Council’s approach and support package aimed at alleviating the cost-ofliving pressures in Warwickshire as set out in Section 3 of the report.
  2. Endorses the proposed allocation of the £3.47m Household Support Grant (HSG) for use between October 2022 and March 2023 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report and authorises the Strategic Director for Resources to make such allocations.
  3. Approves a funding package of up to £1m, funded from the Revenue Investment Fund, to be allocated by the Strategic Director for Resources, in consultation with the Leader, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property and the Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture on a range of support initiatives as he considers necessary, to include those themes set out at Appendix 2 to the report, to alleviate the cost-of-living pressures for Warwickshire.


Supporting documents: