Agenda item

Cost of Living Crisis - Winter Pressures Plan


The Strategic Lead – Housing, Health and Environment presented the report which considered the cost of living crisis in the context of the Council’s Poverty Strategy and alongside its commitment to support vulnerable residents through the challenging financial times. 


The report proposed the adoption of a series of short-term measures to be implemented this winter and to be incorporated into a Winter Pressures Plan to help combat the worst impacts on vulnerable households.  This will be a dynamic Plan that can be flexed in accordance with local intelligence and information appearing on the Poverty/Resilience Dashboard.  An outline of the Plan was shown in an annex to the report.


It was recognised that much of the solution to the cost of living crisis is in the power of central government who steer social policy and make decisions on welfare benefits, price caps and hardship funding; however, the Council can play a useful role in ensuring resilience in the district’s voluntary and community groups, supporting at risk households and operating a safety net for the least resilient households.


The Winter Pressures Plan pulls together a series of projects that can be deployed over the next few months, building on the Council’s Poverty Action Plan and drawing together the work of partners, statutory and voluntary organisations who focus on cost of living, health & wellbeing and community development.


It was recognised that some of the district’s most vulnerable people are tenants of the Council, and the Interim Housing Services Manager summarised the Housing Winter Pressures Plan which had been endorsed by the Housing Review Board


Discussion included the following points:

·        Members commented on the valuable work of the Rough Sleeper Navigators, and the Working Panel will receive a presentation of this work, at its next meeting.

·        Disabled people are particularly vulnerable with potentially higher energy costs, and those with mobility issues can struggle to access ‘warm banks’.  This is a group that the Council intends to be most supportive of, and support is already being targeted through the Energy Rebate Discretionary Scheme.

·        Members would like some downloadable content to be able to hand to people who ask how they can access help, and which usefully signposts them to support. 

·        People need to see a map of warm/social community spaces and this information will be shared through social media and more traditional media, including a winter newsletter, to try to ensure it reaches everyone. 

·        There is some complexity since research has shown that targeting people for support can be counterproductive due to perceived social stigma, so it is important to be careful about how people are encouraged to ask for assistance if they need it, without them feeling unnecessary shame.

·        It is intended to invite local MPs to meet with the district’s food groups; Members of the Working Panel are welcome to join this meeting.

·        One Devon is in the process of formally integrating health and social care, and it was encouraging to note in a recent meeting of leaders that the prevention, together with equalities and access to services, is high on the agenda.  EDDC is pushing to ensure that work on poverty gets a fair share of the budget.


The Working Panel noted that the Winter Pressures Plan set out in the report had been adopted.  The Working Panel will oversee and coordinate the implementation of the Plan.

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