Agenda item

The Impact of the Energy and Cost of Living Crises on Caring for Vulnerable Adults - Verbal Update

The Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration will provide the panel with a verbal update regarding the issues raised at the 5 October 2022 panel meeting.


**The panel reconvened and received information from the Head of Resident and Business Support**


The Head of Resident and Business Support provided an update to Members; a copy of a report to be considered by the Executive on 6 December 2022 (entitled ‘Cost of Living Crisis’) had been circulated prior to this meeting for information.  The following matters were raised as part of the presentation:


  • Cost of living was a bigger issue than being only applicable to Adult Social Care – reference was made to other concerns, such as poverty, fuel, children, etc.
  • The Head of Resident and Business Support had lead on the compilation of the comprehensive report, which focused on how the Council would respond to the crisis.
  • The Financial Governance and Revenues team was working closely with other directorates and external partners to provide solutions.  In addition to the Local Authority, partners including Thirteen Group and education providers offered direct support.
  • A comprehensive response had been delivered through Burdens Funding (Household Support Fund).  Additional funding (running in tandem with DWP initiatives) had been received and subsequently assigned to households with vulnerable people.  A partnership approach was being undertaken to treat residents and respectfully assign support in the right place; this was a longer-term issue.
  • Work in terms of the Council’s response was being benchmarked against a number of Local Authorities – it was felt that the proposal being offered by Middlesbrough was a good one.


During discussion, a Member queried the provision of warm spaces and funding being provided by the Council to assist with this.  In response, it was explained that £20,000 had been set aside to support the warm project.  Warm space opportunities and what they offered were currently being reviewed, with an overview of what this entailed also being devised.  It was indicated that usage levels needed to be understood and funding extended to other areas where possible.  Reference was made to the Live Well Centre and the warm space that had been offered and not used; the importance of appropriate marketing was highlighted and work had been taking place with the Council’s Communications Team in this regard.  It was indicated that Library use had seen a recent increase, but it was unclear as to whether this was the consequence of the warm space initiative, or whether due to general access.  It was acknowledged that providers’ funding was limited, and therefore funding had been assigned as part of the Household Support Fund.


The Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration advised the panel that all information regarding cost of living support was available on the Council’s website.  From an Adult Social Care perspective, it was indicated that the impact of the cost of living crisis was being seen.  However, although a component, there was no clear evidence to suggest that the cost of living crisis was bringing more Social Care users to the front door.  There were concerns as winter approached and a South Tees Cold Weather Plan had been published earlier in the week.  A copy of the plan would be provided to the Panel Members after the meeting.


The Head of Resident and Business Support advised that a variety of activity was currently taking place to ensure that funding from both the Council and other organisations was distributed appropriately.  The first point was to ascertain the current position; an overarching communications policy would then be produced to ensure that communication was undertaken effectively and efficiently, using the appropriate method(s).


A discussion ensued in respect of food bank use and access to vouchers for support with food or fuel.  It was explained that a £60 voucher scheme for parents whose children qualified for free school meals would be taking place over the coming week.  The Council would be using a new voucher system and not issuing the funding via Paypoint as it had done previously, as there were occasions when trade for such items as alcohol and cigarettes had occurred.  However, it was highlighted that the vast majority of individuals would use the voucher for its intended purpose.  It was explained that support for vulnerable adults would be dealt with after Christmas; the Household Support Fund had been extended for a further 12 months, though Middlesbrough’s allocation was yet to be confirmed.


The Chair thanked the Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration and the Head of Resident and Business Support for the information provided.


AGREED that:


  1. A copy of the South Tees Cold Weather Plan would be forwarded to the Panel Members for information; and
  2. The information, as provided, be noted.