Cost of living crisis felt the most by borough families

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

The cost of living crisis is having a greater impact on households in the borough of Scarborough and is affecting families’ health and wellbeing.

That’s according to a report by a group of cross-political councillors.

Members of our Places and Futures and Lives and Homes overview and scrutiny committees led the work.

Their inquiry considered whether there is awareness of all the financial advice, support and entitlements on offer to residents across the borough.

It concludes that the cost of living crisis is likely to continue to create significant issues for many borough families and for months to come.

It also found that the increasing costs of fuel, food and energy have combined with existing disadvantages and vulnerabilities to create a greater risk of immediate and further hardship.

The councillors fear the effect of rising housing costs – whether rental charges or mortgage repayments - will mean more people becoming homeless.

They say it has the potential to place additional pressure on temporary accommodation and our housing services.

The inquiry received feedback from a range of organisations including parish and town councils, charities and businesses.

Evidence was also presented to a ‘scrutiny in a day’ session which heard about the support currently on offer and any barriers to help that currently exist.

This includes national schemes and a range of initiatives local to the borough such as the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund and food banks.

Charities outlined what they are doing to help affected families, including the creation of a network of warm spaces across the borough.

The final scrutiny committees’ report makes six recommendations.

One is an additional contribution of £25,000 to the Two Ridings Community Foundation Cost of Living Crisis fund.  This would support community and voluntary sector organisations working directly with people most affected.

Another is adjusting the criteria for the locality budget scheme to allow all borough councillors to support initiatives which tackle the cost of living crisis.

A third is a commitment for the council to do all it can to continue to communicate the support, help and advice on offer across the borough.

Councillor David Jeffels, who chaired the inquiry working group, said:

“It is clear to us that the cost of living crisis is causing significant problems for many households and families across our borough, some of whom are the most vulnerable.

“In many cases, it seems the effect of rising costs is being felt harder here than it is in other parts of North Yorkshire.

“We are concerned about the long-term impact and the potential strain this may place on the local services we – and other organisations - provide.

“However, our inquiry has shown that public and third-sector organisations are working together to offer as much support as possible to people who need it the most.

“It is heartening to see the many volunteers who have set up community cafes and warm welcome spaces across the borough.

“They are providing a much-valued help to many people and their support is greatly appreciated.”

The inquiry report will be presented to a meeting of the Places and Futures scrutiny committee on Wednesday 21 December and will be considered by Cabinet in the New Year.