Bassetlaw District Council has identified the cost of living crisis as the biggest current threat to its communities, revised its Corporate Plan to reflect this situation and reallocated the use of reserves to match this commitment.
There are a number of local factors which will exacerbate the impact of the cost of the rising cost of living. The rural nature of Bassetlaw means dependency upon private transport, limited access to a variety of local food shops, a high proportion of homes with poor energy performance rating as well as many homes that are not “on grid” resulting in unavoidable costs as prices rise.
The Council has looked to what practical measure it can take in order to provide support at this time. This includes:
- accelerating a programme of investment in its own housing stock through upgrading existing gas boilers, installing air source heat pumps, and the ‘roll-out’ of a significant programme of solar photo voltaic systems.
- support to identify and enforce compliance with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the private rented sector
- enhancing the provision of targeted and direct advice about financial support and assistance, through its Money Advisors and Tenancy Sustainment Officers
- development of a series of advice notes and information packs.
- procuring a tenant support and wellbeing service (TSWS) which is specifically designed to support tenants of social housing.
The work to develop a local ‘helping hand’ can prevent downstream costs to health and care. Health colleagues are critical in this response working through the place based partnership based within the Integrated Care System. The work on addressing health inequalities is intrinsically bolted into this approach. The role of the voluntary and community sector is essential in this approach. Bassetlaw district was one of four areas used in the research for The Value of Small in a Big Crisis report by Lloyds Bank Foundation (see resources section below). It identified that they are often closer to and better at connecting with marginalised groups than other sectors. The role of elected members’ remains crucial in this context supporting the approach of the Council including in relation to the ward based voluntary activity for communities
A place-based, integrated and collaborative approach is required for inclusive and sustainable economies as a mechanism to reduce health inequalities. The Council's work on the local Levelling Up bid and the UK Prosperity Fund investment plan are crucial to this response.
It is clearly recognised that the response to the situation facing our communities requires a multi-agency response and is most effectively led at place level. The Bassetlaw Financial Inclusion Forum, a group that has been operation for over 20 years, provided the basis for a ‘Cost of Living Summit’ with representatives from Citizens Advice, Food Bank, Bassetlaw CVS, DWP, Illegal Money Lending Team, Building Better Opportunities Christians against Poverty, County Council, Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire, Money Advice and Pensions Service, together with the Leader of Council and Cabinet members. The objective was develop a joint delivery plan.
To match this commitment the Council has allocated an additional sum of £50,000. All of the initiatives will be monitored directly by the Cabinet and the Financial Inclusion Forum.