We are committed to taking an integrated approach through joining up support which helps to address the underpinning drivers of poverty and inequality, where we have the right levers. Below we set out some examples of how we are doing this across the economy, our approach to welfare support, energy, housing, transport, and health and wellbeing.
Integrated support to enable better outcomes for vulnerable families
The council is transforming the way it delivers its services to children, young people and families. As part of this we have re-designed our Early Help offer to ensure families get the help and support they need through a new Family Hub model.
This brings all our services together to provide integrated, accessible and seamless support to improve outcomes across wellbeing, education, employment, poverty, mental health and other measures.
The support offer has been co-produced with families, communities and partners, with a focus on working with under-served communities. Staff are trained in relationship-based practice and trauma informed models to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged families receive consistent levels of support.
- work closely with the Department of Work & Pensions to support residents to enter the labour market, support in-work progression, address health and disability challenges, and support residents aged 50 plus
- ensure our Adult Education Hub works with education and training providers across the city to meet the skill needs of residents and businesses
- work with partners to deliver ambitious training and apprenticeship opportunities, including the take-up of pre-employment opportunities, as set out in our forthcoming 2024 City Employment and Skills Plan
- be committed to ensuring all our working residents are paid a real living wage, and will continue to encourage sign up to the Brighton & Hove Living Wage campaign
- support digital inclusion through our digital inclusion strategy and will continue to develop the library service’s Business & IP Centre Sussex to support start-ups, small and medium sized businesses to grow and create well paid high quality jobs
- continue to waive fines for small businesses whose premises get graffitied, provid affordable space for small and medium-sized enterprise’s in the creative and digital industries and have a flexible lettings policy for vacant property
- support projects that provide greater access to work, learning and volunteering through our City Downland Estate Plan
- continue to work in partnership to explore further opportunities to grow our circular economy and support community wealth building
The council’s role as civic leader
To help address concerns about the rising cost of living, the council is supporting its employees through increasing pay for the lowest paid staff and addressing the gender and ethnicity pay gap.
The council ensures that pay policies are based on fairness and equality and allow the workforce to live healthy and happy lives. The council has developed a staff financial wellbeing and wider support package, alongside flexible pathways for in-work progression.
Looking outwards the council is now working to increase the amount of living wage contracts amongst procured services and exploring other ways of using procurement processes to support local wealth generation.
- support people with different needs to access and navigate welfare benefits, for example those affected by the benefit cap, and will provide hardship support to help people transition to more sustainable tenancies.
- work with partners to explore how we can ensure residents receive the benefits they are entitled to and that some of our most vulnerable residents, such as refugees and asylum seekers who have no recourse to public funds, are directed to the appropriate support
- use data from the Low-Income Family Tracker dashboard to identify vulnerable households and target our support where the need is greatest
- support eligible residents with Council Tax Reduction, such as those on Universal Credit and pensioners
- ensure that the debt collection functions of the council recognise vulnerability and respond accordingly (such as allowing extra time for payment)
- connect health services, debt collection and debt advice to help people experiencing mental ill health as they navigate debt problems
- explore how to support families without bank accounts to access agreed funding, using different methods to issue vouchers and cash
- continue to broadly examine different ways of tackling food poverty and food insecurity. This includes:
- Our City Downland Estate Plan, which is helping to promote and support more sustainable local food chains and community food projects
- supporting community gardens and allotments, alongside concessions, to help people grow their own food or access free food through sharing initiatives
- examining the emergency food needs of different communities (such as Black and Racially Minoritised communities, refugees and asylum seekers) to inform our support
- continue to raise awareness of free or subsidised activities across the city, such as free holiday activities for children aged 8 to 16 with special educational needs and disabilities and our Holidays, Activities and Food Programme
Are cost of living support payments reaching everyone in need
In collaboration with partner agencies, at the start of the 2023 term, the council submitted its response to a government inquiry on the impact of the cost of living support payments.
We set out the local disparities, elevated rents and pockets of deprivation and called for cost of living payments to factor local variations in.
We called for changes to the timing and distribution of payments to help residents manage their finances, in line with other benefits, and for a new fund to support those in need who fall outside arbitrary payment thresholds.
The Fuel Poverty & Affordable Warmth Steering Group (Footnote 1) coordinates our collaborative approach to tackling fuel poverty, with key partners across health, housing, food, welfare, and the community and voluntary sector.
We have a range of programmes supporting energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty, such as the:
- Shared Prosperity Fund, which will support interventions that reach thousands of people to increase the take up of energy efficiency measures
- Warmer Homes programme supports low-income households with energy efficient measures
- Energyworks programme (Footnote 2), which provides energy advice, home energy checks, financial advice and support, including for vulnerable residents in urgent need
We also work with neighbouring authorities to support collective purchasing of solar panels through Solar Together Sussex, and we are exploring how we can work with large energy suppliers to target households for wider home energy efficiency measures
We are improving the energy performance of council homes, focusing on our most energy inefficient homes in our most deprived areas through our capital works programme
Further support will be set out in our forthcoming Fuel Poverty and Affordable Warmth Strategy.
- are committed to increasing affordable housing supply in the city. As well as new build schemes, the council has an active acquisition programme which includes buying back homes lost through right to buy and increasing social housing stock by buying from developers early on
- have included cost of living mitigations in our 2023 to 2024 Housing Revenue Account budget to reduce the impact on tenants during the cost of living crisis, including:
- Living Wage rents increase capped at cash increases equivalent to social rent uplift
- affordable rents capped at Local Housing Allowance rates for Brighton & Hove
- a phased increase for service charges with utility costs increased by 15.5% (current inflation between 44% and 45%)
- will continue to contract with advice agency to provide independent money advice for our tenants
- provide advice to people at risk of homelessness to prevent loss of secure accommodation and help to ensure people are in receipt of their entitled benefits to enable them to maintain their tenancies
- will work hard to improve the housing conditions for private renters by progressing the introduction of landlord licensing, which will ensure better standards and take a tougher approach on rogue landlords to protect tenants
- will, in collaboration with partners, lobby for adequate wider support such as the no-fault evictions ban, meaningful increases in Local Housing Allowance and the actual rental prices experienced by residents in the city
- will explore opportunities to foster more cooperative housing in the city, to help tackle insecure tenancies and sky-high rents
Progress on affordable housing
We are making progress on providing more council homes. During the first 100 days of the electoral term, the council acquired Kubic apartments, a block of 38 flats in Whitehawk, to be let at social rent. By purchasing a new build development we can accelerate the provision of much needed affordable homes.
91 new council homes in Portslade have now been completed. These include 42 council flats in Victoria Road and 49 council flats at Quay View in Wellington Road. The Quay View homes are part of a Homes for Brighton & Hove development of 104 one, 2 and 3 bedroom flats, with the other flats available as shared ownership through Hyde.
Through our partnership with Hyde we are also building 242 low-cost homes in Coldean, which includes a further 127 council-rented homes. The Coldean Lane development is due to be completed this winter.
Other developments in the pipeline will provide at least 400 affordable homes.
- have cancelled the former 300% increase in parking charges and will be carrying out a review of all parking charges in autumn 2023
- are exploring virtual parking permits to introduce direct debit payment, helping people manage the cost over time
- are continuing to support the lowering of public transport costs, including discounted fares for under 19s, free travel for up to 4 accompanied under 19s, and low-cost flat rate anywhere day tickets
- continue to fund concessionary travel in the city and have extended the statutory concessionary travel time for disabled residents and older people
- are committed to providing supported bus services to outlying parts of the city to provide access to work, leisure, health centres and education
- are encouraging healthier, sustainable ways to travel around the city, through offering discounted Bike Share memberships to eligible riders, alongside the provision of more bike hangars to provide safe, secure and affordable cycle parking
- are committed to our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and delivering our £28M Bus Service Improvement Plan by 2025
Health and wellbeing
- are working with NHS and community and voluntary sector partners to provide befriending support to reduce loneliness and social prescribing to connect people with activities to enhance and protect their wellbeing, including financial advice and support
- are helping children with special educational needs and disabilities to access childcare provision and activities through the Childcare Inclusion Fund, which pays for necessary changes for the child to access the service
- promote the NHS Healthy Start scheme to help parents buy milk, healthy food and vitamins during pregnancy and until their child is 4 years
- are raising awareness of the free swimming for all children and young people aged 18 and under at the Prince Regent, King Alfred and St Luke’s pools - now extended to include Saltdean Lido
The Leisure Card is available to Brighton & Hove residents who receive benefits to provide discounted access to leisure centres across the city, while the Compass Card offers leisure discounts for disabled children and young people and the Carers' Card providers carers with discounts
Our free Active for Life programme helps people across the city of all ages and abilities to get more active, more often, and our Healthy Lifestyle Team provides free advice on making changes to get healthier
Ageing Well services
Financial stress and increasing care costs prevent people from ageing well.
The Ageing Well service, commissioned by the council and the NHS, is a partnership of 10 community and voluntary sector providers that delivers a range of activities to reduce social isolation and support people to remain healthy and independent, including financial advice delivered by Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove.
Over the past 12 months, more than 600 residents have benefited from the service.
Footnote 1: Membership of this group consists of representatives from the Council’s Public Health, Housing, Food Policy, and Welfare, Revenues & Business Support teams, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, as well as Community & Voluntary Sector organisations including Brighton & Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo), Citizen’s Advice Brighton & Hove, Money Advice Plus, National Energy Action, and the British Red Cross.
Footnote 2: Energyworks is funded by the Energy Redress Scheme and provided by Citizen’s Advice Brighton & Hove and Brighton & Energy Services Cooperative.