To consider any items the Chairman of the meeting considers to be urgent.
There was an urgent matter for consideration at the meeting. A copy had previously been circulated to members of the Committee.
The Chair agreed to take the item in accordance with the appropriate Section of the Local Government Act 1972 and section 15.2 of the Council’s Access to Information Rules by reason of special circumstances namely, to enable the Council to consider matters arising under the cost of living emergency which have arisen since the publication of the agenda.
Before the Committee was a report by the Director for Communities, presented by the Deputy Leader, copies of which had been circulated to all Members and a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of these minutes as Item 4.
In July Worthing Borough Council declared a cost of living emergency in recognition of the growing evidence of extreme pressures that rising costs and inflation were having on communities. Whilst all households are impacted by increases in energy, food and fuel prices, there is a disproportionate effect on significant parts of the Worthing population: lower income families, lone parents, couples without children, those with disabilities, single income households, and those on fixed incomes.
Assessment of Proactive data (Proactive interventions to support low income residents - July 2022), showed significant numbers of households that were in food, fuel, water and overall relative poverty and who were struggling now. Some of the community food groups were reporting unprecedented demand which was outstripping their ability to help. The cumulative impact of inflation was now affecting a growing number of households, including new households that had not had to access financial support to date. Whilst the picture was bleak, there was growing evidence that more severe, and wider, effects of cost of living increases would only grow over the winter months and into 2023.
The Council had been working to alleviate the pressures of firstly the pandemic and then the emerging cost of living issues, over the last few years. Supported through the Council's own budget and COMF funding, this work had included working with and supporting local community food groups, establishing the Proactive response for those that were struggling, providing health and wellbeing support, and housing and homelessness initiatives.
Given the unprecedented scale of these issues now and moving into the Autumn/Winter, the declaration of the cost of living emergency made a commitment to identify an additional £100,000 budget to enable the Council to work on this agenda and to request officers to develop and deliver a Worthing Cost of Living Roadmap. The Roadmap was designed as a framework for a range of partners to work together to support and enable as many people as possible to be able to cope with the cost of living pressures over the next two years. The new Cost of Living Partnership aimed to respond to both immediate and urgent need, whilst building a longer and more sustainable approach by:
· supporting households to be as financially resilient as possible
· supporting communities to help each other and those in most need
· helping to reduce cost impacts on people
· developing sustainable approaches to address income inequalities
There were four major areas of focus for the Roadmap:
· Coordinating an urgent response to the cost of living emergency through helping to meet short term need
· Developing a sustained and co-ordinated community response to ensure that residents who are vulnerable and most at risk of experiencing financial exclusion are able to achieve better financial wellbeing and resilience
· That Worthing Council considers its own organisational culture, policy and practice to ensure it addresses the cost of living crisis
· That partners in Worthing work collaboratively to better utilise our resources to meet community needs and promote financial wellbeing and resilience
Critical to tackling cost of living impacts would be the need to balance the provision of immediate support for households with longer term sustainable measures that supported better financial resilience, increased independence and community infrastructure.
The report outlined why a co-ordinated and sustainable approach to tackling cost of living impacts was needed, and how Worthing Council, through the Cost of Living Roadmap and supporting Action Plan would work with partners across the government, non government and private sector to collaboratively support residents. It described the purpose of the Cost of Living Roadmap and Action Plan and the partnership arrangements that had been set up to support delivery of the Plan over the next two years.
The recommendations in the report were proposed by Councillor Carl Walker, seconded by Councillor Emma Taylor and supported unanimously.
The Worthing Joint Strategic Sub-Committee
1. endorsed the Worthing Cost of Living Roadmap (set out as Appendix 1 to the report) setting out what Worthing Borough Council would do to support residents through the cost of living emergency;
2. noted the funding of the £100,000 commitment made at Council as set out in section 5 of the report.
The call-in deadline for the decision will be 5.00pm on the 16th September 2022.