South Gloucestershire Council created a Financial Security Group to link all areas of financial security together and provide a comprehensive approach to supporting people.
The Financial Security Group, created by the Council, links all areas of financial security together, including wider determinants such as employment, addiction and health, providing a more comprehensive approach to supporting those who require it, ensuring those most in need are targeted.
The wide range of organisations working together, both within and outside of the Council, bring a breadth of experience, opinions and angles.
A Child Poverty Indicator Dashboard has been created using key indicators such as income and eligibility for Universal Credit and free school meals. This dashboard will help to understand the data within the community and be used as a tool to target support to those who need it.
Practical actions have been taken by creating a financial support leaflet which includes key contacts that offer support for different areas such as finance, housing and wellbeing, providing a useful signposting tool. These leaflets have been sent out to prime locations within the community including pharmacies, libraries, schools, community centres and foodbanks. A poster and screen media document have also been created to display alongside the leaflet.
An online version has also been created for colleagues using the Making Every Contact Council (MECC). This allows people to signpost support in areas they may not feel confident in.
A comprehensive grant application process is being developed to move away from the ‘sticking plaster’ approach of short-term support. Now when residents apply for funds they are also offered tailored support that may help them improve their longer-term circumstances, such debt advice or employment support from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).
Barriers to applying have also been considered. It is recognised that people may need extra support such as with digital, numeracy or literacy, or they may have a lack of confidence to complete the form independently or be unable to access the documents. Applicants can now request support to complete the application and follow up emails and phone calls are made to check if further support is required after initial application.
There have been many schemes both nationally and locally which have been put in place to support those who require additional financial support, but they are often short term, with specific and often restrictive eligibility criteria that doesn’t operate under a strategic framework.
As a result, the Financial Support Framework was created, which is the flexible and strategic framework approach that the Council takes and applies to all funding streams. This framework uses an intelligence-based targeted approach to offer sustainable support to those most in need. This approach is intended to be preventative and aims to move away from offering ‘sticking plaster’ solutions.
The next steps include continuing to analyse data in order to improve the application form itself as well as targeting support appropriately, for example how different age groups are most likely to hear about the support the Council offers.
A data and insights project has also begun in order to get feedback from residents about the support they have received and any barriers they have experienced. This will be used guide future work.