Newark and Sherwood District Council approve £50,000 more cost-of-living crisis support for residents
A council is to continue offering cost of living support, and due to “so much suffering” consider increasing it next year.
In December 2022, the cabinet created a fund of £150,000 — with a further £50k added from the Shared Prosperity Fund in 2023 — to develop its response to the cost-of-living crisis.
It was used to fund debt advice and benefit maximisation, a low-cost healthy food project, distributing household and hygiene packs and energy boxes, running webinars for businesses and a Shop Local campaign and a Localised Council Tax Support take up trial.
However, £53,606 remains unspent, with £50,000 never having been allocated, and at its latest meeting cabinet agreed to put £10,000 of funding to four projects:
- Expansion of food clubs to evenings, where the money will provide for the initial up-front cost of food for six months allowing families who work to access food clubs outside of working hours.
- Expansion of cooking sessions with ATTFE and Newark College to provide 28 seven-week courses.
- Development of two additional community gardens, on in Newark and one in Sherwood, to replicate the success of the Feel Good Gardens at Sherwood Pines.
- Winter Fuel Support in the form of additional fuel vouchers for households on pre-payment meters.
A further £12,800 was proposed for securing emergency food parcels, which are allocated as a last resort in circumstances where households have run out of all essentials and cannot access a food club.
The remaining budget of £806 is proposed to be used on further fuel vouchers.
The council also identified a risk to its provision, as food re-distributer FareShare has struggled at times in securing the volume of food needed for all clubs it supports due to the increased demand for its services.
Council officers are working with FareShare to manage the risk and maintain a sustainable service, as it acknowledged not securing the food may lead to increased costs to purchase food or failure to meet demand.
Paul Taylor said: “There’s a lot of good work going on supporting the people of Newark and Sherwood, particularly those who are suffering with the cost-of-living crisis.
“It is the biggest issue affecting people in the district.”
He added that, as the report presented recommended, the council should consider continuing its support into the 2024 to 2025 financial year.
“Next year we need to be looking at providing even more support,” he said,
“There’s so much suffering.”
Paul Peacock supported the comments, and added: “I think Paul is right, I think we probably need to work even harder and do even more.”
Ideas put forward for councillor’s consideration included grow your own vegetable packs, a mobile food bank, employing a full-time food-coordinator and offering a market traders start up grant.
It was questioned by Matthew Spoors if any particular groups, such as Travellers, had been considered in the ideas.
He suggested grow your own schemes could be viable on future pitches for the community.
The funding plan was supported and cabinet members also agreed to consider future support further and a have a report brought to the December meeting outlining the proposed projects for 2024 to 2025.