Latest news from Citizens Advice in Broxtowe

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The National Red List – how is the cost of living impacting our communities

Citizens Advice recently produced a report entitled the National Red Index. It brings together data from the 300,000 people who come to the service in England for debt advice alongside national survey data of people’s income and fixed costs, things like energy, rent, council tax and mortgages to determine how many people can’t afford their essentials.

The national Red Index was developed by a team of experts including Dr Morgan Wild, Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge University. The data is shocking. The report comments:

“Nearly 5 million people are in a negative budget, stuck in the red, building up debt to get by. A further 2.35 million are living on empty – only escaping a negative budget by cutting their essential spending back to unsafe levels, just to keep their heads above water. They’re breaking even, but only by going hungry, sitting in cold and damp homes, or not getting around as much as they used to.”

Furthermore, there is evidence that inflation at the peak of the cost-of-living crisis has had greater impact on people in the lower income deciles. Something that is leaving these households in a long-term deficit.

In Broxtowe we were ahead of the curve, designing our financial resilience programme as the economy emerged out of the pandemic before it ran into a cost-of-living crisis. As the report says, there is no magic bullet to solving overwhelming national economic pressures on households but it is possible to make a difference and we recently reported how we can demonstrate success in Broxtowe thanks to the Broxtowe Borough Council UK Shared Prosperity Partnership.

These continue to be worrying times for residents but partners like Broxtowe Borough Council, Citizens Advice, Green Doctor and Futures continue to work in partnership supporting our most economically fragile households.

In its report Citizens Advice call for the following measures to turn the tide on falling living standards:

  1. Legislate to uprate working-age benefits using inflation data from the Household Costs Indices, so they better reflect the true cost of living for low-income households. 
  2. Keep increasing the national minimum wage so more people in work can be lifted out of a negative budget.
  3. Improve energy bill support by expanding eligibility for the Warm Home Discount and increasing support for those with the greatest energy needs.
  4. Ensure affordable access to essential markets through social tariffs for water, broadband and motor insurance.  
  5. Reform the Local Housing Allowance so it better supports people with high private rent costs

At Citizens Advice Broxtowe we feel these measures can only produce long-term outcomes if they are accompanied by individualised plans to put low income households in a more advantageous income band, make sustainable savings on their expenditure and address the lack of a financial safety net for those with low financial resilience.

Help with jobs and skills in Broxtowe

A starting point out of a negative budget is income maximisation. This might include looking at what benefits you and your household are entitled to claim and also looking at what other opportunities there are to increase your income. A key factor in the National Red List is that of low income increasing the impact of inflation. That is why we are supporting all initiatives in Broxtowe to help people into better well paid work. In March we will be supporting the Stapleford Jobs Fair so pop along, have a chat with us and the other stall holders. Who knows, you may find some interesting careers or skills opportunities that you never knew existed.

There is also help available to Broxtowe residents through the Transform Your Future Programme. Click on the images below to read the full leaflet:

Chief Executive chats with Princess Anne about our work

Recently Princess Anne visited Plumptre Hall in Eastwood, where she learnt about new mental health services in the borough. During her visit she met residents of Broxtowe and heard how mental health occupational therapists focus on the impact someone’s mental health can have on their daily life and goals. Our very own Sally Bestwick, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Broxtowe has worked tirelessly to help clients who experience poor mental health. She was lucky enough to meet Princess Anne and talk with her about how our organisation supports people in partnership with Nottinghamshire Mind.

The royal also happens to be the patron of Citizens Advice so it was nice to touch base with Princess Anne who has supported the service nationally over many decades.

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