Cabinet members will hear tomorrow how the council is helping its citizens through the cost of living crisis and aiming to break cycles of poverty in the city for generations to come. Tackling food and fuel poverty has been the main priority with an increase over the last 6 months in the demand for support from a wide cross section of people.

There’s also been a need for places to keep warm, help with essential household goods and even beds, as it’s become clear many residents, including children, are experiencing ‘bed poverty’ with not even a proper bed to sleep in at night.

Cabinet members will hear how to date, the council has delivered a wide range of support including helping fund 5 community shops; launching 38 Warm Spaces; providing 1,279 beds and bedding items; and awarding 1,686 direct payments for help with household utilities and food to a total value of £224,400.

The updates will be given to tomorrow night’s (Wednesday 22 February) Cabinet meeting in a report about progress to date on the Financial Wellbeing Strategy. The strategy sets out the city’s long term vision to improve the lives of residents living in Wolverhampton. It was developed and is being delivered with community, faith, and voluntary sector partners in the city.

The report details how the community shops have a total membership of 3,900 so far and, on average, members report savings of up to £30 per week on groceries. The shops give access to fresh food that is low cost and nutritious, while also enabling people to retain their dignity, autonomy and choice around food. Based on the current opening times and membership levels, the project has the potential to save households in the city, in the region of £7 million a year, councillors will hear.

Shop members also benefit from wraparound support, including access to cooking sessions, advice and guidance on managing household budgets, and signposting to specialist support where needed. Food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens also continue to play a valuable role in giving direct food support in Wolverhampton.

The report also documents how 38 Warm Spaces were created cross the city to keep people warm and connected during the coldest months and to date there have been 1,279 beds and bedding items distributed. Of this total number, 895 children were given beds.

This support includes bed frames and mattresses, cots and cribs for babies under 2, and bedding items including duvets, blankets, and bed sheets.

Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: 

“This strategy was approved in March last year, when we knew we wanted to tackle the long term deprivation in our city and combat the effects of the pandemic on our people and our economy. 

“But what we didn’t know then was just how deeply the cost of living crisis would bite us all. How it would leave hardworking people struggling to eat or heat their homes.

“We could not have envisaged creating Warm Spaces this time last year, but that’s exactly what we did during the winter months to ensure people had somewhere to keep warm while energy prices soared.

“This strategy has already been really tested during its first year in these challenging economic times and I’m proud of the progress its already delivered. There’s still much to do and no room for complacency, but I’m determined this council, with its valued partners, will achieve our goal of creating better financial futures and lives for the people of this city and their children.”

To read the full report and tune in to tomorrow’s meeting, please go to Cabinet meeting