This section provides councils with key resources and data to tackle local cost of living challenges.
The Money and Pensions Service are recommending that councils use a newly launched bill prioritiser tool. The tool can be used by officers, advisers, and individuals themselves, to help sort bills and payments in the right order.
Citizens Advice has launched a dashboard that shows the trends in cost-of-living crisis and its real-time impact on people seeking the charity’s support. Their latest data highlights a series of trends, including a summer peak to issues traditionally seen in winter. Key findings from Citizens Advice show that crisis support continues to grow at significantly high levels, by the end July 2022 Citizens Advice says it will have supported over 120,000 people with access to food banks and other charitable support, which is more than numbers seen in 2019 and 2020 combined.
The poverty premium is the extra costs people on low incomes and in poverty pay for essential products and services. Examples include using prepayment meters, higher insurance premiums, paying to access cash, and high cost credit use.
Statistics on the number of breathing spaces obtained under the Debt Respite Scheme, broken down by location, age, and money advisor organisation. The publication covers the first year of the operation of the scheme.
Statistics on councils’ use of Discretionary Housing Payment funds.
This report provides an overview of financial hardship and economic vulnerability in your authority area (you can select your own council at the top of the report). It is intended that this insight can be used to help understand the issues in your area, inform the design of support services, encourage greater partnership working, help make the case for resources and funding as well as aid the development of an effective response. It has been designed for viewing at local authority geographies.
Centre for Progressive Policy has created a new index highlighting spatial patterns of vulnerability to this crisis to gain a greater understanding of which places will be worst hit without further government support. The index takes a broad view by incorporating a range of economic factors to determine:
- a place’s relative risk of more people being pulled into poverty
- the relative risk of those who were already hard up being pushed into destitution.
To assess the impact of household food insecurity across the UK, The Food Foundation has been commissioning a series of nationally representative surveys since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. These track and report on people’s experiences of food insecurity particularly focusing on at risk groups such as families, BAME and ethnic groups, people with disabilities and children on Free School Meals.
The English Fuel Poverty Index is made up of individual scores for each local authority district in England. A calculation is used to work out each district’s score. The scores range from 0, representing the best score, to 100, representing the worst.
The score is made up of three metrics; the local authority district’s fuel poverty rate, its distribution of Eco Flex measures (which allows local authorities to help those in fuel poverty improve their energy efficiency) and the distribution of Low Income Green Home Grant Vouchers in the area (LIGHGV, which covered the entire cost of energy efficiency improvements under the scheme that closed on 31 March for new applicants, but is still being delivered).
Analysis of how different groups in the population have been affected by an increase in their cost of living, using data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. Data includes analysis on how difficult it is for adults to pay household bills, how much credit is being used, and on saving money.
This ONS map highlights economic inequality in the UK and shows how income and productivity do not always coincide.
An interactive map using research undertaken by Money Advice Trust to show which councils:
- instructed the use of bailiffs to collect debts and how frequently
- signpost to support
- have adopted the Standard Financial Statement (SFS)
- have a formal vulnerability policy is in place
- have a policy of exempting Council Tax Support recipients from bailiff action
- have adopted the Citizens Advice Protocol.
The Department for Work and Pensions are encouraging those over State Pension age and on a low income, to check if they are entitled to Pension Credit which could provide extra money to help with living costs. This could be worth an average of £3,500 a year. It could also mean they are entitled to additional support including help with heating bills, housing costs and council tax, free NHS dental care and a free TV licence for over 75.
Those eligible for Pension Credit, you may also be eligible for Cost of Living payments of up to £900.
Resources and reports
Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers advice to people to protect themselves from fraud. With the rising cost of living, falling for a scam may hit people that much harder, as the impact could leave them short on everyday essentials. Take Five’s cost of living 2022 partner toolkit contains social and creative assets for councils to share on their channels to show their support for the campaign. You can download the toolkit from the Take Five to Stop Fraud website.
This resource was created by the Hertfordshire Behaviour Change Unit at Hertfordshire County Council to provide practical and evidence-based behavioural science recommendations that can help local authorities to support their residents with the significant pressures caused by the increased cost of living. The resource:
- identifies the groups in society that are most likely to be affected and how the increased cost of living will impact on them, thus exacerbating societal and health inequalities
- provides evidence-based advice rooted in the behavioural and social sciences, highlighting what local authorities can do to support their residents
- presents key recommendations for action and next steps to support residents.
Supporting residents with the increased cost of living | Hertfordshire Behaviour Change Unit, Hertfordshire County Council
A national map and directory to register a space as a ‘warm bank’ and direct people to support.
This good practice protocol makes a number of suggestions on how local partnerships can be strengthened and residents better supported. Developed through partnership work between the national bodies representing advice agencies, local government and enforcement agencies throughout England and Wales, it builds upon the previous protocol, which government recommended local authorities adopt in their 2013 guidance. The protocol reflects best practice at local level and is intended to facilitate regular liaison on practices and policy concerning council tax debt collection. In setting down clear procedures and keeping them regularly under review, all parties can ensure that cases of arrears are dealt with appropriately whilst complaints are handled efficiently.
A collection of case studies showing the value of discretionary funds as a tool for prevention.
A report detailing libraries role in responding to the cost of living crisis, including those seeking warmth and crisis support.
A Government toolkit designed to suggest ideas and guidance for organisations wishing to encourage pensioners they have dealings with to claim Pension.
The Debt Management Vulnerability Toolkit is designed to help public sector creditors support their vulnerable customers. It provides front line staff with best-practice tools to identify and assist people facing physical and mental challenges.
The Financial Wellbeing Survey 2021 is a nationally representative survey of over 10,000 adults living in the UK. The questionnaire covers the building blocks required for people to feel financially resilient, confident, and empowered. These include:
- current and longer-term financial wellbeing
- day-to-day behaviours like managing credit, active saving and keeping track of spending
- planning behaviours like pension saving and building resilience against expected and unexpected life events
- enablers and inhibitors like confidence, sense of control, financial numeracy and engagement with money information, advice, and guidance.
This report, commissioned by the Mayor of London and The Legal Education Foundation, explores the ways in which well-integrated social prescribing and social welfare legal advice service provision can be supported at all levels, with consideration of the roles of all stakeholders across London to make this happen.
Strategic guidance aimed to support Local Authority collaboration with debt advice agencies in England and Wales.
The Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (previously MHCLG) have identified best practice in council tax recovery and drawn on local expertise to produce a resource for councils looking to change practice.
Local Partnerships was commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) via the five Regional Energy Hubs to produce a Local Authority Housing Retrofit Handbook to provide practical advice to local authorities in England. It brings existing resources together in one place and gives a suggested order in which to work through this material.
A spreadsheet tool to aid councils in their understanding of retrofitting fuel poor households in their area to energy efficiency rate EPC C standard. The tool allows users to input assumptions about the cost of retrofitting fuel poor households, how much carbon savings can be generated from retrofit and the savings to the NHS from retrofit.
Cost of living hub
Councils and local partners have delivered remarkable services and support to protect their residents against higher costs, targeting help at those facing the most complex challenges. This hub is designed to share best practice and help councils support their residents through this difficult time.