Help for households in hardship was given a boost after councillors agreed the allocation of over £2 million to support people in Brighton & Hove through the national cost of living crisis.
This follows the government announcement that the Household Support Fund would be refocussed on the cost-of-living increases and extended for a further six months, until September 2022.
Councillors on the council’s Policy & Resources Committee met on Thursday 12 May to decide how £2.140 million would be spent to help the most vulnerable.
Funding agreed for people in need
The government require that a minimum of one third of the Household Support Fund is spent on pensioners, one third on families with children and the remaining fund spent on households genuinely in need of support.
Councillors also agreed to allocate an additional £231,000 underspend from another fund to provide extra help.
This will go towards enabling free school meal vouchers during the May half term and throughout the school summer holiday, and additional funding to support other households experiencing hardship which could include:
- low income, working households, unable to afford essential food, fuel and other needs
- households in receipt of welfare benefits who are in financial crisis
- disabled people who may experience disproportionate energy and other costs
- carers and households open to social services
- young people under the age of 25, receiving welfare benefits and live on the lowest level of supported income
- community and voluntary sector projects that direct urgent support to helping those most in need
The cost of living impact in Brighton & Hove
The rising cost of living across the UK is having national and local impacts.
Data provided by the Food Foundation in February suggests that 62% of UK households have experienced higher energy bills; and 16% of UK households have had to cut back on the quality or quantity of food to afford other essentials such as energy.
Meanwhile 59% of low income households are worried that increased energy prices will mean they have less money to afford enough food for themselves or their families.
Locally this will mean that people who were ‘just about managing’ could also be pushed into food and fuel poverty, increasing the numbers seeking support for emergency food and other welfare support.
Data collected in April 2022 confirms that poverty in the city is considerably worse than before the pandemic. It’s estimated that 12% of households were living in fuel poverty (2020), while child poverty rates are increasing.
Figures from the Department for Education show that 21% of state pupils were eligible for free school meals in Brighton and Hove, increasing to 32% in parts of the city. Current numbers are expected to be higher, with protected groups and single parent households set to be some of the most vulnerable.
“Doing everything we can to support those in need”
Leader of the Council, Councillor Phélim Mac Caffery said: “Sadly the council is witnessing first-hand how the cost of living increase is having a hugely damaging impact on Brighton & Hove’s communities.
“We’re facing unprecedented demand for council services that help households in hardship. For example, the Local Discretionary Social Fund, which helps people with buying food and paying utility bills, is oversubscribed.
“There’s an urgent need to provide more support for people in crisis. Households in need of emergency support continue to rise week-on-week.
“Facing that stark reality, the council stands ready to help how we can and will continue to explore available options. From providing free school meals and emergency food parcels to making available funds for everyday essentials such as paying utility bills and buying urgently needed items for the home, the council stands by those hit hardest.
“I’m angry that many people continue to have to make a choice between heating or eating, or in some cases can’t afford to do either. However, I am adamant that the council will ensure that the available funds, services, and support are being put in place.
"As ever, I’m always impressed by the superb and active role that our community and voluntary sector plays in responding to the challenges our city faces.
“I asked council officials to examine what we can do to help Brighton & Hove residents suffering through the cost-of-living crisis.
"This week I’m pleased to announce the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal, set up by Brighton & Hove Citizens Advice and Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, with support by the council, will help raise funds for those in crisis.
“I know that times are really hard for many people, but I ask that for those people who can afford to give, to consider donating to the appeal and reach out a hand to help those in desperate need.”
Give and receive help
If you feel you could make a donation to the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal, then please visit the campaign’s Just Giving campaign page.
If you’re facing a crisis and need help the council can provide welfare advice, discretionary payments and other support. Find out more on our help and support web page.
To check if your child is entitled to free school meals or to apply please read the criteria and use the website application form.
If you're in a low income household and need help paying your Council Tax, you could get a Council Tax Reduction (CTR).
Emergency help with food, energy bills and other essentials
If you receive benefits and need help to pay for essentials you can't live without, apply for help from our Local Discretionary Social Fund.
Food, shopping and meals
For advice and support about getting food,shopping and meal deliveries, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citizens Advice are running normal hours. You can phone them on 0300 330 9033 or use their website to send a message.
Money Advice Plus
The advice line is running as normal on 0800 988 7037. Visit the money advice website.
Benefits advice and challenging decisions - Council Welfare Rights Team
- extended advice line hours Monday to Wednesday 10am to 1pm 01273 291 116
- email email@example.com
Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project
- Welfare Rights Advice 01273 676171
- telephone advice only 01273 894050
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
East Sussex Credit Union
- closed to drops in but all services are available online
- telephone 0300 303 3188
- email email@example.com
Advice on paying your council tax and rent
Find more information on our website: