Darren Cowell

If you need help shout now - not later

Torbay Weekly

Torbay residents struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis are being urged to ask for help now – rather than later.

Torbay Council has recently set up a Cost of Living webpage containing useful information for people who need help managing their money.

It has information about local groups and organisations offering support and explains how to apply for money from government schemes.

Torbay’s cabinet has been getting an update on its Turning the Tide on Poverty strategy.

It is Torbay’s approach to tackling inequalities in the Bay that lead to poorer health in people who are affected by poverty.

A report states that these inequalities have been made worse over the last couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

The report reveals that:

· 18.7 per cent of Torbay households are classed as ‘workless’, and wages are below national and regional averages. Higher earning residents tend to work outside of Torbay.

· Torbay has an above-average proportion of households in private rented accommodation (25 per cent), with 60 per cent of these receiving Housing Benefit.

· One third of all children (and half of all Free School Meal eligible children) are not ‘ready for school’. We also have high rates of cared-for children.

· The gap in life expectancy between most and least deprived areas is eight years

Turning the Tide workshops held earlier this year with community groups heard that more hands-on support is needed, particularly with foundation life skills such as budgeting and cooking.

The Sustainable Food Partnership is a council initiative which has been running a project called Cook, Eat and Chat, a series of free cooking workshops aimed at feeding families on a budget.

A four-week course is currently underway, and more are planned for the summer.

Working in partnership is key to tackling inequality in Torbay. Members of Torbay’s Cabinet and senior leadership team met with approximately 25 faith group leaders recently to develop stronger partnership work on this agenda. The council will continue to fund the Community Builders, who play a key role in developing communities and informing them of services to help them overcome disadvantage.

The council helps residents with debt advice through funding it makes to the community helpline.

In addition, the council offers crisis support, discretionary housing payments and financial hardship payments so that people can keep a roof over their heads.

It works closely with groups like the Torbay Food Alliance to assist people struggling to pay their food bills.

The council’s updated draft Housing Strategy is due to be published in the coming weeks which will set out how it can deliver much-needed homes for Torbay residents.

Deputy council leader Darren Cowell said: “We want everyone in Torbay to have the best chances in life – a decent standard of living, quality housing and good health.

“We were just starting to build back after the pandemic when the cost-of-living crisis hit.

“We work directly, and in partnership with the voluntary and community sector, to support people who are at greatest risk from rising living costs, which we know can have knock-on effects for their health and wellbeing.”