Voluntary and community sector partners from across Sandwell have joined the Leader of the Council in writing to the Prime Minister.
Their letter describes some of the challenges residents are facing in the cost of living crisis and asks for a commitment to government support.
A Cost of Living summit took place earlier in March following a cost of living emergency being declared by the council in 2022.
Organisations in attendance at the summit included Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations, Citizens Advice Sandwell and Walsall, Communities in Sync, Ideal for All, The Kaleidoscope Plus Group and Sandwell Consortium. Each of these partners has added their support to Sandwell Council’s Leader, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, by co-signing the letter to the Prime Minister.
Councillor Carmichael said: “Sandwell has been hit hard by the rising cost of living, so we hope by writing to the Prime Minister on this matter, our concerns for the area are heard at the highest level. We are doing everything we can to support our residents but it is clear from talking to partners that the concern about funding is cross-sector.
“We have asked the Prime Minister to commit to doubling our allocation of Household Support Fund the following two years (2024/25 and 2025/26), to sustain the levelling up funding required to address the long-term structural challenges facing Sandwell and that a Minister is invited to visit Sandwell to see first-hand some of these challenges and discuss how we can work together to address them.
“We convened a Cost of Living Emergency Summit, bringing together more than sixty public, private and voluntary sector partners to coordinate our efforts to support our community through this crisis.”
Sandwell is ranked second out of 333 local authorities on the Centre for Progressive Policy’s Cost of Living Vulnerability Index and ranks eighth across in the Index of Multiple Deprivation and second specifically on income deprivation.
Almost a quarter of households in Sandwell receive help with Council Tax and fifth of Sandwell households experience fuel poverty with nearly a quarter report food insecurity.
Councillor Carmichael added: “We have been working closely together to respond in this crisis, as we did during the COVID pandemic. We have geared up our joint activity to support the most vulnerable.
“We are proud of the borough-wide response so far, but collectively we recognise that more needs to be done. The Cost of Living Emergency Summit was full of energy and commitment from across all our partners to problem solve and collaborate.
“However, given the nature of our community, the scale of the task is huge and will continue for several years to come. With a consistent level of Government funding over a longer period, we can do more with our partners to respond and plan support to lift people out of poverty and build resilience in the long term.
“While we welcome regeneration funding for Tipton town centre and Levelling Up Funds for Haden Hill Leisure Centre, we need sustained levelling up funding to address the scale of need in Sandwell.
“We were pleased to welcome The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to Sandwell and remain optimistic that this is the beginning of the Government acknowledging the challenges in Sandwell.”
Source: Sandwell Council Press Release