Birmingham City Council financial challenges - time to Reset

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New £676,000 council package for community support organisations

Published: Monday, 13th March 2023

A funding package worth £676,000 is set to be invested by the council into cost of living information, advice and guidance services delivered by voluntary and community organisations in Birmingham.

The funding comes from the £5million pot established by the council last year to help support people impacted by the financial issues being faced across the city.

A report due before the council’s Cabinet on March 21 states the proposed support for grassroots organisations will support and enhance the increased activity already undertaken by the council Neighbourhood Advice and Information service, contact centre and a 50 per cent expansion for accredited legal entitlements contracts.

The funding package will be awarded to Heart of England Community Foundation Trust as a variation of a contract which currently sees the organisation currently manage part of the Neighbourhood Network Schemes grant fund, which they have overseen effectively since 2019.

It is noted in the Cabinet report that the core business activity of Heart of England Community Foundation Trust and the specification of the core contract lends itself naturally to the business requirements under the cost of living crisis to deploy urgent advice funding through local community and voluntary sector organisations.

Where appropriate, the locations of the advice services will be linked to the city’s Warm Spaces and other community-based geographical locations, through focus on population-linked data mapping using the council’s recently launched City Observatory Financial Resilience Toolkit to maximise the impact for communities of greatest need.

Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety and Equalities, said: “The issues and challenges being faced by people in this city are not easing, so we need to provide further support.

“This proposal will enable us to bring extra capacity into the city quickly by giving small, medium, and large community-based organisations an opportunity to apply for funding, including grassroots groups already trusted by the diverse range of communities in which they operate.”

The activity funded via this proposed investment will complement the success of extended opening hours being offered on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the council’s Neighbourhood Advice and Information Centres at Erdington and Northfield.

Since launching the enhanced offer last November, 538 people have been supported during the extended hours, with their income potentially maximised by £729,194, through unclaimed benefits and discounts that have been identified.

Cllr Cotton added: “The officers delivering our own council-operated services have been doing fantastic job in help people maximise their income by identifying and unlocking unclaimed benefits, but now is the time to go that extra mile – and this will help us do exactly that.”

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