The increasing cost of living is hurting here in Brighton & Hove. Food and energy bills are going up but household incomes aren’t. People are experiencing greater hardship, especially the most vulnerable in our community.
Households most likely to be in poverty include those where someone in the home has a disability and they have to keep utilities on not just for warmth and cooking but for health equipment such as hoists, nebulisers and fridges for medication.
The most serious cost of living pressure in terms of the rate of price increase is the cost of utilities at 54%.
More than one in 10 households in our region are already in food poverty (Food Foundation 2022 report). Food Banks across the city are reporting increased demand.
The Brighton Food Bank reports: “30% increase in client numbers last year and 18% year to date. What is concerning is to see clients who we had managed to stabilise their position and not need our services - return to us this year. Also, an increase in those who have never ever needed support - 20 to 30 years in work - now being thrown into the system."
For a long time, the narrative was that people choose between heating or eating – we are now in the situation where some people can’t afford to do either as household incomes do not meet living costs. This is why we’re appealing for help to ensure that people in the city can be warm and fed.
Helping households in hardship
Brighton & Hove Citizen’s Advice and Brighton & Hove Food Partnership have teamed up to launch the Brighton Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal with the support of Brighton & Hove City Council.
Initially the donations will be split with 60% going to provide help with fuel poverty and 40% going to pay for food. Citizens Advice and the Food Partnership will keep this under review and post updates if we direct more funding towards one type of crisis help because of need.
The fund will pay for prepayment vouchers for utilities or payments into utility accounts, and it will pay for food parcels and vouchers for food and meals. It will be used to purchase equipment that helps with food and fuel poverty such as slow cookers, microwaves or electric blankets.
The funds will be used to support existing schemes run by the Moneyworks Partnership which is led by Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove and the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership (working with the city’s food banks and meal projects).
While there are costs for making financial transactions, no overheads or salaries will be paid for out this fund to make sure the most is available to those in need.
Your donations can make a difference
We know it’s tough for many of us right now, however by donating what you can the scheme will ensure that the money goes to helping vulnerable people in our city.
Vic Borrill, Director of Brighton & Hove Food Partnership said: “We all eat and it is not just one group that are experiencing poverty.
"Day in day, day out the city’s emergency food projects are seeing people of all ages and backgrounds who are at risk of malnutrition, homelessness, poor educational attainment, mental and physical health breakdown because they don’t have enough money for food.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of people who have never needed a food bank before, including those who are in work. Volunteers at food projects tell us that it’s like being on a hamster wheel, they are busy helping people all week then have to start over again the next. This situation is desperate.”
Jo Carden, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove urged: “Services which normally provide limited crisis help will need to consider changing our models and providing ongoing support such as food or fuel vouchers in order to prevent serious health impacts.
"It will be important for services to distinguish carefully the difference between extreme poverty and neglect and not penalise people for being poor but provide emergency relief where that is the issue.
“Schools and charities will find themselves on the front line of a poverty bomb next winter that we have never experienced before and find hard to contemplate. Please help us provide that help to the households in most need this year.”
Responding to the launch of the city’s campaign, Leader of the Council, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty applauded the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal:
“As times get tough we are asking those who can to help our most marginalised residents with this urgent and much needed appeal.
“The council is working with the community and voluntary sector to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. I have asked council officials to work closely with these organisations to get support and money to those most in need.
"We’re helping reach people who may not be coming to the council, but who we understand may still need help and identifying those at risk of fuel poverty to refer them on to appropriate support.
“I’m angry that it’s got to the point where in one of the wealthiest countries in the world people are struggling with the rising cost of food, essential goods and fuel bills.
“The council has raised our serious concerns with government ministers about the welfare of our fixed-income households and council teams mobilised to practically assist.
“We have increased the amount available to our local fund to help people make one off payments for essential, urgent emergency goods like fridges and ovens. We’re working with key organisations and leasing premises to Brighton & Hove City Mission. While we’ve introduced new, interest-free loans to support council staff with rental deposits.
“The council will keep fighting the corner of our residents. Your donations can help those suffering the most during this crisis.”
Help those in need now
If you feel you could make a donation to help those in hardship, then please visit the campaign’s Just Giving campaign page.
We’re also issuing the government’s £150 energy payment to thousands of council tax payers. If you feel this money could go to help households in hardship and support others through the cost of living crisis then we’re encouraging those who can to donate it towards the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal.