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February updates from the SFPA

The latest data from the Food Foundation shows that food insecurity levels have risen to the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic, affecting 5.7 million adults in the past six months. 1 million households (3.6%) reported not eating for at least one day in the past month. When the energy price cap increases in April single adult households on low incomes will have to spend 54% of their income after housing costs to pay their energy bills. We are seeing food prices that are rising by 5%, energy costs increasing by as much as 50% and benefits subject to only a 3.1% rise as inflation heads to 7%.


Partnership working will be more important than ever as we look to help low-income households in Shropshire navigate these most challenging of times. All the usual updates below, along with links to other news and resources.





SFPA updates


Over £45,000 of grants distributed to support Shropshire's food banks since the start of the pandemic

Our thanks to Shropshire Council and the The Shropshire Mason's whose financial support has enabled us to distributed £47,500 worth of grants to the county's food banks since the start of the pandemic. This funding has enabled them to keep their food supplies steady, purchase additional equipment to deal with increased demand and introduce voucher schemes to support people with more choice and dignity. While we are reluctant to see food banks institutionalised in Shropshire and the UK, they have provided essential support to their communities and continue to do so. The ultimate goal however, is a situation where everyone has sufficient income to feed themselves and their families.


Continued work on the cash-first agenda

The ‘Worrying About Money?’ leaflets we have co-developed with local organisations and the Independent Food Aid Network are a straightforward resource to help those facing financial crisis, and anyone supporting them, to quickly see the support and advice available to them locally. We have distributed over 10,000 copies across the county and frontline organisations tell us they have been a really useful resource. Please contact sophie@shrewsburyfoodhub.org.uk if you would like free hard copies.


Understanding the energy cap rise and the support available

Millions of households are expecting a sharp increase in their energy bills from April but understanding support available can be confusing. We’ve pulled together information on the Shropshire Larder to help navigate the months ahead. Read the blog post here.


Issues with the digitalisation of the Healthy Start Scheme

Sustain and the Food Foundation will shortly be sending a joint letter to Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, calling for urgent action on the Healthy Start scheme. There have been a few issues identified including:


-Faulty online application system

-Limited functionality of the card for in-store and online payments

-Lack of promotion and awareness amongst users and retailers


The SFPA has signed this letter and continues to work with Shropshire Council's Public Health team and the Trussell Trust to promote uptake of the scheme locally. If you would like to add your support to the letter please email please email bella@sustainweb.org before the 10th of March.

In Shropshire take up has reduced- latest figures show we are at around 34%. Just 416 families are now receiving the vouchers (out of 1217). The Healthy Start scheme plays a vital role in supporting low-income young families and pregnant mothers to eat well.


Shropshire news

Support available from the Shropshire Infrastructure Partnership Team

Infrastructure support

Help with everything from advice and guidance to groups and organisations (such as legal structures, committee advice, volunteer management etc), to grant and funding advice, offering a volunteer brokerage service. Find out more here.

Training

All courses from March till the end of May are being offered for free. Booking here.


Enabling Fund- Hands Together LUDLOW

The scheme is aimed at people on benefits and low incomes who want to improve their prospects for the future. This is a local fund, available to people living in South Shropshire, Grants of up to £500, but larger amounts may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

For further information email: susie.ohagan@handstogetherludlow.org.uk


The Shropshire Council Community Resources ‘Combatting Isolation Grant’

Organisations in the county can apply for grants of £500 to £7,000, A ‘Self-Isolation Support Grant’ has also been launched. More information here.


Shropshire Council's Welfare Support Team has a new web page

You can access it here. The preferred way for people to apply at present is to use the telephone application line – 0345 678 9078 (option 2). They are working on an online form that should be available in the very near future.


Other news and resources

Shropshire food bank use set to remain high

Covid realities final report: documenting life on a low income during the Covid 19 pandemic

Most recent food insecurity data from the Food Foundation

13 million people missing out on UC

Asda to make cheapest food ranges more widely available

The response to the cost of living crisis must learn lessons from the pandemic

Food price tracking- February update

Cost of living crisis: write to your MP

The DWP must start putting people before process

Launch of major inquiry into rural health and social care

The Cost of the School Day in England: Pupil's Perspectives

Social Security For All report