AT Cambridge City Council’s full council meeting on Thursday (21 July), councillors set out measures that will be taken to support Cambridge residents during the coming weeks and months.
88% of adults in Great Britain reported an increase in their cost of living in May 2022. Consumer prices went up 9% in the year to April 2022; domestic gas and electricity prices increased by 95% and 54% in the year to April (and are set to increase further in October); and food prices also rose sharply with food inflation hitting 4.3% in May 2022.
Within this context, the council has set out the following measures to support households facing the cost of living emergency:
- Establishing a dedicated working group to address the cost of living emergency now and into the coming autumn/winter, working with other community and voluntary sector partners
- Making it easier for residents to access support from the council and other partners – with dedicated Cost of Living Help webpages and ongoing work to promote the support available
- Addressing inequalities related to the specific impact of fuel poverty on people’s health through a heating and health project, which will work with other local authorities and community and voluntary sector partners to provide targeted support to residents from the autumn
- Ensuring that council decisions are not disproportionately impacting on residents who are struggling the most, through the implementation of the Equality Act’s socio-economic duty to ensure council processes and initiatives take socio-economic deprivation into account
- Working with employers to continue championing a Real Living Wage for workers in Cambridge, and paying council employees a Real Living Wage too
- Updating the process to apply for community grants, to make it easier for local groups supporting those struggling to access funding
- Making Cambridge a ‘Right to Food City’, which would mean placing responsibility on the government to end hunger and every person having a legal right to food; and continuing to support Cambridge’s food hubs, working with communities and the Food Poverty Alliance to form a vision of what the Right to Food looks like for Cambridge.
Cllr Mairéad Healy, Executive Councillor for Equalities, Anti-Poverty and Wellbeing. said: “We know people are understandably worried about their finances, with increased costs making life more difficult for many, and particularly so for people on the lowest incomes. That’s before energy bills are expected to rocket in October, just at the same time as people will start needing to use the heating again. This is a financial emergency for many, and we want to do all we can to support people at such a worrying time.
“Whether you are currently worrying about your finances or want to start planning for the autumn and winter, everyone can find ideas on our cost of living help webpages. This includes signposting to other local organisations and volunteer groups who are also ready to offer support. You can find out how to reduce energy, water and other household bills; and how to check whether you might be eligible for any benefits or other payments to help maximise your household income.”
Cllr Healy added: “For anyone in need of access to energy vouchers or food in an emergency, there’s information about food and fuel vouchers.
“There’s also signposting to free lunches or holiday clubs to help families during the summer holidays; and, vitally, guidance on how to look after your physical and mental wellbeing when you’re facing real financial worries.
Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Food Justice and Community Development, said: “I’m so passionate about working towards making Cambridge a ‘Right to Food City’. As we start the summer holidays, we can all agree that no parent should ever have to worry about where their child’s next meal will come from, nor should they need to go hungry in order to make sure their child is well-fed. Every person should have a legal right to food, and as ever we will carry on working to support communities and the Food Poverty Alliance on the vital work they do to plug these gaps.
“There will be more support to come – particularly as we develop our Health and Heating project for the autumn – but in the meantime I would encourage anyone who is worried to visit our webpages to see what support we can offer, and remind you that you’re not on your own.”