COST OF LIVING – COMMUNITY, VOLUNTARY AND FAITH SECTOR GRANTS PROGRAMME
Decision Maker: Director of Public Health
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
This report seeks approval for the funding of a Community Voluntary and Faith sector grants programme to increase capacity to support local communities affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
The grants programme will be funded through Contain Outbreak Management Funding.
Proposed actions affect all Wards within the borough and the decision is a key decision.
The activities outlined in this report support the vision of the Wirral Plan 2021-2026, to ‘create equity for people and place’ and will contribute directly or indirectly to delivering the five themes of the plan:
· Sustainable Environment
· Brighter Futures
· Inclusive Economy
· Safe and Pleasant Communities
· Active and Healthy Lives
Resolved – That
(1) the use of £1.2m of the Contain Outbreak Management Fund be approved to establish a Community, Voluntary and Faith Sector grants programme to increase support to local communities affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
(2) following consultation with the Chief Executive, the decision be excluded from removal of delegation and reconsideration by Policy and Resources Committee.
Reasons for the decision:
The economic backdrop has changed considerably over the past few months with higher oil, gas and commodity prices, fears of rising and persistent inflation. There is significant concern regarding the damaging impacts this will have on local communities through rising living costs. May 2022 data showed Consumer Prices Index (CPI) edging higher to 9.1% while the core CPI rate, which removes energy, fuel and food was 5.9%. While the Retail Price Index (RPI), which measure the change in costs of a representative sample of goods and services, rose to 11.7%. The Bank of England’s latest projection sees inflation climbing to 13%, largely influenced by the continuing rise in energy prices.
This is having a significant detrimental impact on funding and income available for residents and their ability afford their day-to-day bills and essential expenditure. There are increasing reports of residents making choices between heating or eating, being isolated in their homes due to no available money to pay for fuel or electricity and having to prioritise food over other basic but important needs.
The rising cost of living means residents may fall into poverty, face eviction from their homes and suffer significant mental and physical detrimental health outcomes. This will not only affect the most vulnerable and deprived in the Borough that the Council and its partners are already aware of and supporting but also those who previously would have been able to manage and therefore would not usually have sought support but are likely to find themselves in more challenging circumstances.
The community, voluntary and faith (CVF) sector plays a hugely important role in Wirral, providing a wide range of activities and services to residents that improve health and wellbeing and contribute to the local economy. The sector has been critical to the response to the pandemic and will continue to have a pivotal role in supporting local communities through the cost-of-living crisis. Organisations based within the heart of local communities are well trusted and respected by residents who may not want to access help elsewhere. These organisations understand the needs and issues affecting local residents and understand where the monies will be most effective.
Alternative options considered:
The other option is to not run the grant scheme, or to run the grant scheme at a lower value, which leaves local people more vulnerable to adverse outcomes. Establishing this grants programme reflects the ongoing needs reported by local communities and is also evidenced by data therefore other options, although considered, are not recommended.
Publication date: 14/09/2022
Date of decision: 30/08/2022