Support for the most vulnerable and keeping communities strong and resilient was the core focus for Oxfordshire leaders as they met on Thursday, 06 October, for an online roundtable event to discuss cost of living crisis.
Organisations that work closely with residents were among those joining Oxfordshire’s six councils at the roundtable, which sought to identify gaps in current support, share information between partners, and build on the collaboration over recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On top of ongoing national-level support, local support will be crucial in helping the most vulnerable in communities.
On 20 September, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to a list of proposals to assist local people – particularly the vulnerable – over the coming months. More than £2 million of funding will be provided in 2022/23 to support the proposals with further funding in future years.
“We’re all looking with increasing concern at the financial pressures many of our residents face as we head towards the winter. We know too well the impact that poverty can have on physical and mental well-being. Evidence shows a direct link between deprivation and health outcomes, including life expectancy.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to bring organisations across the county together to share information about our respective responses to the cost of living crisis and reinforce our common purpose.”
—Councillor Mark Lygo, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Equalities at Oxfordshire County Council
“This winter, we are only too aware that more people will struggle with the cost of living crisis. And that means more demand on support services across the county. In Oxford, we’ve been working with services and community groups since the spring and throughout the summer on our cost of living events and advice.
“Sadly, we know that now we need to reach even more people. This was a valuable meeting of public sector and community organisations to share what we’re doing and the challenges in the community. The pandemic showed how powerful we can be when communities and individuals, supported by their local city council, come together to look after each other.”
—Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council
“From processing council tax energy rebates and advising on where to go for help and funding to continuing our homeless prevention work, are some of the ways we’re supporting people in our district. We’ve requested urgent action from the government to relieve this crisis for families and individuals through providing immediate financial support.
“However, there is much more to do, and we know the power of partnership work which is why we fully support this concerted effort across the councils alongside voluntary sector partners to work together on additional measures to support people.”
—Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council
“We’re doing all we can to help those in need whilst at the same time also imploring HM Government to take the necessary steps to ease the financial pressures being faced by our communities.
“Locally, our actions included calling for this cost of living emergency event with our partners. This is an important step to work on a coordinated community response to bring help to those who desperately need it.”
—Councillor David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council
“At Cherwell District Council, we’re allocating additional funding to give the households in the greatest hardship two £50 food vouchers in time for Christmas. Qualifying households will hear from us in the coming weeks, and we’re also creating a warm spaces network to provide venues where people can drop in, enjoy the warmth, and meet people.
“As we head into winter, I am determined to make the best use of our community networks and local partnerships to benefit our residents. North Oxfordshire includes some of the most economically deprived wards in the county and our attendance at this roundtable event reflects our commitment to working across the Oxfordshire system to make sure the help given to all our residents reflects their level of need.”
—Councillor Phil Chapman, Portfolio Holder for Healthy Communities at Cherwell District Council
“The cost of living crisis affects all of us across society as the prices of everyday essentials are rising. We understand that many across West Oxfordshire are finding it hard to make ends meet, so we are keen to work across the county to see what support we can provide as local councils.
“We are working with local communities across West Oxfordshire to provide additional support to those who will be struggling this winter and also working hard to let residents know about all the support already available to them.
“I would encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out for help whether that be contacting your energy provider, speaking to citizens advice or looking at what financial support is available from the government.”
—Councillor Duncan Enright, Deputy Leader for West Oxfordshire District Council
More information about support available for Oxfordshire’s residents struggling with rising costs can be found at oxfordshire.gov.uk/council/help-rising-living-costs.