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Plans to support residents experiencing financial hardship to be discussed

20 March 2024

Proposals to fund support for Cambridgeshire residents experiencing financial hardship will be discussed by the Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee (CoSMIC) tomorrow, Thursday (21 March).

The committee will discuss plans to provide Cambridge Housing Society with an additional £150,000 and issue the Citizens Advice Bureau with a grant of £400,000.

This initial spend follows the council’s budget setting last month when Full Council approved £2.2m to fund anti-poverty work across the county and support the council’s ambition of helping people out of poverty.

Since October 2021, the council has been receiving money from the national Household Support Fund (HSF). The current round of HSF runs until 31 March 2024; in the spring budget earlier this month, a six-month extension was announced to run from April to September 2024. This funding extension will be considered at a future meeting of the Strategy, Resources and Performance Committee.

The HSF scheme has been complemented by work delivered by the Citizens Advice Bureau in the form of income maximisation and the Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme, delivered by Cambridge Housing Society.

Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme works with Cambridge and District Citizens Advice Bureau, Citizens Advice Rural Cambridgeshire, Cambridge Re-Use, The Ferry Project and Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network. They help to identify and reach people and families in crisis and not wait for them to turn up.

The Citizens Advice Bureau’s income maximisation work provides income advice, including support with budgeting, as well as helping with some of the practicalities like budget checks and advice on increasing income or reducing spend.

Cllr Tom Sanderson, Chair of the Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We know how the cost-of-living issues have worsened inequalities in health, wealth and education and based on resident feedback through our Quality-of-Life survey, 86% of residents said they were concerned about cost-of-living increases.

“We’re listening to our residents and acting on their top concerns to prioritise a number of key areas for funding. We’re working hard to make Cambridgeshire fairer and more caring and by prioritising funds through investment, especially in the anti-poverty work, we want to make sure that people who receive council services are receiving all the support and welfare benefits they are entitled to. The Citizens Advice Bureau offer will really help to protect the most vulnerable and could make sure between 2,500-3,000 people are supported throughout the year, so the £400,000 grant we hope to provide is invaluable and will help to deliver a fairer Cambridgeshire.”

The committee papers can be found on our website and the meeting will be live streamed on the council’s YouTube channel.