News release from 20/03/2023
More than £200,000 of further cost of living support confirmed by District Council
A further cost of living support package for residents, worth more than £200,000, has been agreed by South Cambridgeshire District Council.
The plans include a roadshow of cost of living talks, support to transform some Warm Hubs into Community Wellbeing Hubs, increasing awareness of Council Tax support, more free energy saving appliances and the creation of a South Cambridgeshire Sustainable Food Network.
The latest support package was confirmed by Cabinet members today (Monday 20 March 2023). It builds on a package of almost £400,000 of support which was agreed by the Council in November last year. Just over half of that initial funding came from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care System (ICS) to support community-based programmes tackling prevention, and community engagement.
These new support plans announced by the Council confirm what will happen next. The ICS have indicated that they will provide further grant funding that the Council will bid for, to continue projects for the next financial year, which will continue to focus on the prevention of poor health resulting from financial hardship, and community engagement.
The roadshow of cost of living talks, organised in partnership with parish councils, will see a rolling programme of events designed to highlight support available to the most vulnerable. This will aim to improve reach and uptake of grants and other support services that many don’t know are available to them.
25 Warm Hubs have been running across South Cambridgeshire this winter, with more than 3,000 visits recorded up to the start of March. Run by Cambridgeshire ACRE, they are free cosy spaces which residents of all ages can visit to socialise, work, and catch up with friends. Some will now evolve into Community Wellbeing Hubs, offering more services.
A large-scale Council Tax communications campaign will take place, to increase the number of eligible people who are aware of, and subsequently claim, financial help towards their Council Tax bill. More deprived areas will be targeted with communications, to help inform people of their potential eligibility.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s scheme to provide free energy saving appliances to those residents who are only just about managing will be expanded into next winter. So far this winter, more than 400 South Cambridgeshire residents have been provided with either a slow cooker, electric blanket, or both by the Council. A charitable giving fund, which residents who are able to can donate towards as part of this scheme, has raised nearly £2,000 and remains open.
Finally, funds are also allocated to help create a South Cambridgeshire Sustainable Food Network. Work will take place to link-up all the existing foodbanks in the district, creating a network of support for each other – with the over-riding aim of distributing food that would otherwise end-up being thrown away. The network will also look to create links with local farmers to donate excess food that is not suitable for supermarkets, encourage communities to grow fresh vegetables for the most vulnerable, and promote healthy eating and more plant-based diets. This network will be a key part of the emerging South Cambridgeshire Sustainable Food Strategy, which is being developed by the District Council and set to be discussed by its Climate and Environment Advisory Group next month (April).
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “We have been doing all that we can to support South Cambridgeshire residents through the cost-of-living crisis. Unfortunately, the crisis shows no sign of ending and this package of support outlines the next stage of our work.
“It has been a long, hard winter for many people, and it is distressing to hear stories about households – including working families – facing the horrible choice of heating or eating, with the implications for ill-health. These plans outline how we’re doing our very best to provide support to prevent that.”