Norfolk County Council: A coordinated response to the cost of living crisis

Norfolk Council’s Welfare Rights Team, Money Support Service and Norfolk Assistance Scheme work together to help those in financial need.

Cost of living

The challenge

A Kinship Carer looking after her grandson was in financial crisis as she was caring for him after he was removed from the care of his parents. Children’s Services paid her a fostering allowance, which was her only income. As a European national there was confusion over which benefits she was entitled to, and due to historical financial exploitation from her son, she had large rent and water arrears. She was struggling to pay for food and utilities, which was compounded by the cost of living crisis. 

Having turned pension age, she was no longer entitled to Universal Credit and was not eligible for State Pension. Since the final payment of Universal Credit, her only income was the foster payments. She was not aware of what to do or how to get help.

Children’s Services were concerned as the poor financial situation may have resulted in homelessness and the grandson being placed in care.

The solution

Norfolk County Council’s Client Services contains the Welfare Rights Team, Money Support Service and Norfolk Assistance Scheme (Local Assistance Scheme). These teams are at the forefront of the response to the rising cost of the living and have the expertise and resources to help with financial well-being of Norfolk residents. They were therefore able to work together to help resolve the situation.  

The Welfare Rights Team assisted with making claims for Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. The award of benefit ensured a regular income was in place. They also made a claim for Discretionary Housing Payment to help pay the top of rent. 

The Money Support Service made an application to Friends Of The Elderly and Fund For Human Need, liaised with Citizen Advice for an Energy Paypoint Voucher, referred her to Norfolk Community Law Service for Debt Advice on water debts and liaised with Anglia Water to get a reduction in the ongoing water charges. 

Norfolk Assistance Scheme liaised with the Borough Council to agree a 50/50 split to cover rent arrears, issued a payment to help pay utilities and order several food boxes.

From the initial referral from the Children’s Services, Norfolk County Council’s Client Services Teams were able to coordinate with each other to alleviate the financial situation in this case.

The best practise of Norfolk County Council teams is to use their expertise and local knowledge to work together and with other agencies to help reduce the impact of the growing cost of living pressures and deal with complex situations. The work done on this case ensured there was no eviction, ongoing housing costs were covered, there was enough income to maintain the household and the risk of a child being taken into care was prevented. 

The teams continue to work closely with each other and across sectors to ensure the cost of living crisis is managed in the best way possible. 

There is joined up work with local borough councils, funding and collaboration with the third sector to ensure as many people are engaged with as possible.

Further information

The support offered by Norfolk County Council can be found on the help with living costs section of the Council's website.