Agenda item


            The Committee was reminded that it had, at a previous meeting, agreed to establish a Cost-of-Living Working Group to review previous hardship schemes and work to co-design an effective hardship scheme.


            The Head of Inclusive Growth and Anti-Poverty reported that the Working Group had met on two occasions and drew the Committee’s attention to draft proposals in relation to the Hardship Fund for 2023/24, based upon its discussions and direct feedback from Members. The proposals covered three main areas, namely, Focus of Support (Cohorts), Design Principles and the Emerging Funding Model.


            He pointed out that the funding being provided by the Department for Communities and the Council, through the hardship scheme and the underspend in the Covid Support Grant respectively, amounted to approximately £1,019,000, with the indicative budget allocation being as follows:





Funding Allocation (indicative)

1.     Support to Children and Families

Schools via Education Authority


Sponsored/Community Day-Care

(Children 0-10 years age / vulnerable children)


Save the Children


Family Support Hubs (network of 10)


2.     Support for Individuals and Families in Immediate (Emergency) Need



Red Cross (55+ Age Group)


Generalist Advice Providers


Trussell Trust




3.     Enhance Capacity of Existing Structures and Programmes

Winter Wellbeing Community Programmes


Warm and Well Programme


Social Supermarkets





            The Head of Inclusive Growth and Anti-Poverty then pointed out that, whilst the Department for Communities’ Letter of Offer provided for a management fee for the delivery of the hardship fund, it was anticipated that this would apply to a minimal number of partners. There could also be other non-avoidable costs, relating to delivery infrastructure, for some delivery partners which would be kept to a minimum. Any such costs would, he confirmed, be inclusive of the overall funding allocations outlined above.


            He went on to state that discussions were ongoing with potential delivery partners in terms of the capacity to deliver the scale of support and funding in this financial year and there might, therefore, be a need to realign identified in-year underspends at very short notice. He added that the Cost-of-Living Working Group had highlighted the need for any emerging Hardship Scheme to be underpinned by an effective communications plan, setting out clear messages around the scope of the scheme, the support available and how it could be accessed and have clear referral pathways in place which were promoted across community partners. He concluded by recommending that the Committee:


                               i.          note the contents of the report, including the funding being made available to support the development and implementation of a Hardship Scheme for the 2023/24 financial year;


                              ii.          approve the proposed cohorts who should benefit from any such scheme, namely, children and young people (including those with special needs), families and/or individuals in emergency need, aging population and newcomer communities;


                            iii.          approve the proposed funding model as set out in the table above; and


                            iv.          delegate authority to the Director of Neighbourhood Services and the Director of City and Organisational Strategy to realign in-year underspends within the overall funding framework.


            The Committee adopted the recommendations, subject to the funding allocation for Generalist Advice Providers in the foregoing table being reduced by £100k to £20k and that for the Family Support Hubs and Social Supermarkets each being increased by £50k to £150k. 


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