To consider a report from the Executive Director – People (copy enclosed)
The Leader presented a report which provided Cabinet with a summary of the actions taken by Cumbria County Council to support Cumbria’s most vulnerable residents during the current cost of living crisis.
The cost of living crisis posed a significant threat to public health. In response to this the UK Government had put in place a number of support measures, including the Household Support Fund and household fuel support payments. But, monitoring the impacts locally, led Cumbria County Council to want to do more.
The Leader outlined the actions taken in response to this:-
· In June 2022 Cumbria County Council created a £2 million Cost of Living Reserve, to give additional support to Cumbria’s most vulnerable residents.
· In September 2022 Cumbria County Council also passed a motion to take steps to –
o Build on the work of the cost-of-living crisis fund.
o To call on Scrutiny to convene a task and finish group to ensure no child goes hungry.
o To lobby government to review their Free School Meal guidance.
· Following the Scrutiny task and finish group the recommendations of the ‘No Child Goes Hungry’ report were agreed by Cabinet in December 2022 resulting in a further £2m being made available to implement them. This included £1.5m which was distributed to all schools in the county, including academies and free schools, including funding to enable schools to access the national breakfast club scheme, and a further £500k to allow the two new unitary councils to continue the holiday food programme over the 2023 Easter holidays.
· In October 2022 a further £1m was allocated from the public health budget to provide support to organisations working to alleviate food poverty.
Each of these decisions culminated in a total spend of £5m, which was further broken down below:
Each of these decisions culminated in a total spend of £5m, which is further broken down below:
· £1.5m of funding direct to all schools, including free schools and academies, to ensure that no Cumbrian child goes hungry. This included £50k of match funding support to enable schools to access the Government’s National Breakfast Club Programme.
· £0.5m to double the amount of the County Council’s school uniform grant to £50 for Primary age children and £100 for Secondary age children.
· £1m of support for free school meal recipients during the school holidays - this covered all the holidays, including half terms, from summer 2022 and will include provision for this coming Easter holiday in 2023.
· £0.5m top up into the County Council’s Ways to Welfare fund – this is a long running fund that supports those in severe financial hardship, which has seen unprecedented demand during this cost of living crisis.
· £1.5m to allow other organisations to continue to provide support and advice in the face of unprecedented demand on their services, including Cumbria’s Citizens Advice Bureau Consortium, Cumbria Carers’ Association, and Cumbria Community Foundation.
Cabinet acknowledged that funding had also been provided from the local committees to use during this crisis.
RESOLVED, that Cabinet
(1) notes the actions taken by the County Council in 2022/23 to provide additional support to residents of Cumbria during the current cost of living crisis;
(2) notes the role of the County Council in co-ordinating a wide range of interventions across a large geographical area and the support the Council has put in place to ensure that the Cumberland and the Westmorland & Furness Councils have resources in place to tackle the cost of living crisis from vesting day;
(3) notes that there is further work required to balance ongoing emergency support with developing and implementing medium and long-term strategic plans to reduce poverty and inequalities in both Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness.