With winter on the way and the cost of living crisis biting, the city council has agreed a package of support totaling £2.14 million to help households in hardship through this coming period.
Alongside administering the government’s third round of the Household Support Fund, the council will continue to provide a wide range of welfare advice services as well as financial hardship support, and support and advice for help with energy bills and energy saving.
Council Leader, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Last week, this council took some of the strongest steps possible.
“We recognised earlier this year the stark reality facing residents and local small businesses. 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 hardest hit.”
Helping with the cost of heating and eating
Commenting on the increasing costs of food and energy, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “We don’t think it’s acceptable that this winter some residents will be forced to choose between heating and eating.
“We’re prioritising support for households in hardship and our most vulnerable residents.”
The council will be continuing free School Meals for six weeks over the October, Christmas and February half terms and Easter. This £810k provision will include early years and sixth form pupils.
Food club and providers of delivered meals will receive £60k while the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership will receive £40k.
Last winter, BHESCo’s Energy Saving Service supported 75 fuel poor households in Brighton & Hove through the Warmth For Wellbeing programme. In preparation for this winter the council is providing £115k to the programme as well as an additional £50k towards sustainable energy solutions.
The council is also working with our community and voluntary sector on promoting winter activities and warm places to help provide warmth and comfort during the period.
Recognising that taking action on climate change can also help with the cost-of-living crisis there will also be a continued progress on the Brighton & Hove Warm Homes programme to retrofit private sector homes with insulation and energy saving adaptations.
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 & 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.
More action needed
Describing his concerns on the crisis situation, Councillor Mac Cafferty also highlighted the extra support the council is calling for from the UK government.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to help the city, but we don’t have the powers or funding to do everything we might think is needed.
“We’re taking a series of demands to government to alleviate the pain of the cost of living for our residents and small local businesses.
“On behalf of our residents, we’re asking for private rents to be to frozen for two years, Free School Meals for every primary school child, a temporary ban on evictions to be introduced.
“As well as assessing the impact of the cost of living on small and local businesses, we are asking the government to extend business rates relief and introduce dedicated Business Grant support for SMEs and pubs, and to reduce tourism and energy VAT for businesses to 5%.”
Giving help to others
In May, the council, alongside Brighton & Hove Citizen Advice and Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, helped set up a Cost-of-Living Appeal. As of October, the Just Giving campaign has now raised over £43,000.
Thanking residents for their generosity, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Thank you to residents who have donated. It truly reflects the city’s values and generosity of our communities.
“The appeal was set up to help raise funds for those in crisis and the tens of thousands of pounds now donated will go towards meeting the costs of heating and eating.
“I know that times are really hard for many people, but I ask that for those people who can afford to give, please consider donating to the appeal and reach out a hand to help those in desperate need.”
If you feel you could make a donation to the Brighton & Hove Cost of Living Crisis Appeal, then please visit the Just Giving campaign page.
Receive help and support if you need
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 financial help and support page.
Visit our free schools meals webpage to check if your child is entitled to free school meals and for information on applying.
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
The council’s community hub can help residents access emergency help 01273 293117.
Local Discretionary Social Fund
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.
Phone them on 0300 330 9033 or visit the Citizens Advice website.
Money Advice Plus
The advice line is running as normal on 0800 988 7037.
Visit the Money Advice Plus website.
They have made alternative arrangements with all clients who normally visit the office to get help with managing money. If you have any queries you can phone on 01273 664 000
Benefits Advice and challenging decisions
Council's 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
- Possability People
- telephone advice only 01273 894050
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wave Community Bank
- closed to drops in but all services are available online
- telephone 0300 303 3188
- email email@example.com