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Councillors unite to declare a Cost of Living Emergency and commit £100,000 to support communities

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Stroud District Council has committed further financial support for frontline community work to help people in Stroud district who are struggling with the steep rises in the cost of living. 

Last night (Thursday, October 20), Councillors unanimously resolved to support the implementation of a cost of living crisis response and agree the allocation of £100,000 to help tackle the issue, in addition to £252,000 of funding received from Gloucestershire County Council.

For many months, the Council has been working closely with front-line community and voluntary sector partners to support people with cost of living pressures, and this new package will enable this work to step up in the face of the crisis.

Councillors of all parties also resolved to declare a “Cost of Living Emergency”, and to write to the Government and local MPs calling for immediate financial support for those in need, and a clear plan from the Government to deal with the crisis.

“We know that many more people are struggling with cost of living pressures, and it’s important that they know local help is available to them.” said Council Leader Catherine Braun, after the meeting.

“I was delighted to see unanimous support for our cost of living response plan, which will mean an investment of £100,000 to support the council’s frontline work across the district, in partnership with the fantastic voluntary and community sector, so that support can be provided to people in need.”

The meeting considered a report which included data from Stroud District Foodbank  which shows that usage has gone up by 90% since last year. Stroud District Citizens Advice also provided data which showed a sharp rise in requests for support and in food bank referrals, from January 2019 to September 2022.

“We are responding to peoples’ concerns and using the limited resources that we have to best effect,” said Councillor Chris Brine, Chair of the Community Services & Licensing Committee.

Because the strain on communities and on the resources of public sector organisations is set to increase significantly, the Council’s response includes:

  • Financial help for community hubs.
  • Supporting warm spaces.
  • Increasing capacity to make phone referrals to support agencies, as well as providing online information to complement Citizens Advice.
  • Making sure that everyone is informed of the help available, including those who do not have internet access.
  • Forming a team to prioritise tackling the cost of living and map gaps in provision.
  • Training for all front-line staff and volunteers.

The Council has already taken steps to support communities and groups affected and is drawing on its own resources alongside government support distributed through Gloucestershire County Council (GCC).

In September 2022 GCC provided the Council with £129,000 Household Support Funding for families with children, people on Pensions Credit and other adults in need. This has primarily been spent on Tesco, Aldi and Co-op vouchers which were distributed through Citizens Advice and a network of Community Hubs and Parish Councils who agreed to participate. The Council has more recently been allocated a further £123,000 from GCC to cover the period from October 2022 to March 2023.

In addition to backing the new funding for local priorities, Councillors also supported a Cost of Living Emergency motion proposed by Councillor Beki Aldam, and seconded by Councillor Natalie Bennett. This motion was backed by the Green, Independent Left, Community Independent, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour Councillors and included a commitment to support the Great Homes Upgrade campaign, for everyone to have a well-insulated home, heated by clean, green energy.   

“This motion is calling for the national government to step up, to address the severity of the current situation.  No-one in our district should go hungry and no-one should have to choose between food or warmth,” said Councillor Aldam.

The full text of the Cost of Living Emergency motion can be read at https://stroud.moderngov.co.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=2328

For help with Government support, pension credits, childcare costs, discretionary housing payment, Council Tax support, carer’s allowance, Household Support Fund, support from your energy supplier, making your home more energy efficient, help if you’re struggling to afford enough food, free school meals, advice about money worries, applying for a water bill discount, and looking after your mental health, visit our cost of living page: www.stroud.gov.uk/costofliving

Anyone who would like to make a contribution to places with a warm welcome, can do so at https://opencollective.com/stroud-district-community-hubs

Full details of the meeting can be read at https://stroud.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=143&MId=1337&Ver=4 and a recording of the meeting viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeH_AmF0s-TShcYlM8Stweg/videos

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