The Warwickshire Cost of Living Summit took place today (Friday 25 November) at the University of Warwick.
The purpose of the summit was to discuss collaboration and cooperation to better support residents and businesses in the area.
Chaired by Professor Sir Chris Ham, Co-Chair of the NHS Assembly, the afternoon event saw representatives from local authorities and partners from public, private, voluntary and community sectors come together to discuss how best to collaborate to support the residents and communities of Warwickshire with the rising costs of living.
Discussion during the summit focused on developing a joint approach to supporting people, identifying specific cooperative actions to take, and looking at local data around the impact of cost-of-living pressures in Warwickshire.
The summit was organised as part of a £4.5m package of measures to support residents and local businesses with managing their finances during these challenging times. This includes £3.5m of food, energy and crisis support through Warwickshire County Council’s Local Welfare Scheme, funded by the Government’s Household Support Fund, and £1m further funding to support wider schemes.
The summit featured the launch of a Cost of Living website, designed as a one-stop shop for practical and financial advice from county, district and borough councils and other partners. This will also help public services better signpost and advise those needing support.
Warwickshire’s “Warm Welcome” locations were also introduced, which provides vulnerable and isolated residents the opportunity to spend time somewhere warm during the cold months. Under the scheme, people will see extended opening hours and additional services from libraries, hubs set up by district and borough council partners and a network of up to 80 community-led hubs being supported by Warwickshire Rural Community Council. These locations will provide wraparound support to help visitors access advice and guidance from partner organisations such as Citizens Advice.
Funding was also announced for:
extending and enhancing the telephone advice from Citizens Advice
supporting food banks in providing food and household essentials and managing energy costs
an extension of the Communities Pantries in Lillington, Camp Hill and New Arley
voluntary transport schemes to assist vulnerable people in getting to essential medical and social appointments
a countywide utilities campaign providing a one-off payment to Warwickshire residents who are most in need, through the Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme
Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said:
“Rising to the challenge posed by increasing living costs will require coordination with our communities, and the ideas shared at today's summit have set us on a promising course for how to achieve that. The summit was all about identifying the ways that public, private and voluntary sectors can work together to maximise our offer to people in need, over the very difficult period we have ahead of us.
"There is a lot to be done, and we need to make sure we are doing it in the most effective way possible. Our collaboration has already resulted in the practical help announced today – the Warm Welcome locations, additional funding for Citizens Advice and food banks, along with the new Cost of Living website – all valuable resources for anyone who needs support at this time.”
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said:
“We are a university which is rooted within our local community and play an active role in supporting our neighbours.
“We were pleased to be able to host this cost-of-living summit at Warwick, which brought together key partners from across the region to discuss how we can collectively support residents and businesses during these hugely challenging times.
“Recently we announced a £3.5m package of support for our staff and students, which targeted helping those on lower incomes.
“We also opened the doors to our Arts Centre to the community to use as a warm space with a programme of free activities on offer.
“And we're looking forwarding to hosting the free ‘Festive Feast’ event at Leamington’s Brunswick Hub food bank. We will continue to work in close partnership with our local authorities, businesses and stakeholders to support local people.”
Available support for Warwickshire residents, such as help paying energy bills and childcare costs or access to Warm Welcome locations, can be found on the Cost of Living website.
Information to stay safe and well this winter can be found on our Winter Wellness webpages.