Local partnership swings into action to tackle the impact of the pandemic on people’s finances, as tightening lockdown restrictions threaten further harm.
A landmark summit attracting more than 70 local and national experts and practitioners recently assembled an emergency summit – including local MPs, councillors, local employers, public health and housing professionals, and a range of local advice and support services – to address the acute impact of the pandemic on Nottingham residents’ finances and agree a number of commitments to help support people.
Spearheaded by the Nottingham Financial Resilience Partnership, the summit was called to share and highlight the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic on Nottingham residents, including key metrics on the adverse impacts, who has been hit the most and how vulnerable residents can be best supported in the weeks and months ahead.
A survey of Nottingham residents* conducted in the summer highlighted a number of money worries.
· 10% of residents had fallen into rent arrears or further arrears and one third of people have built up debt
· 20% have borrowed from friends & family, or a high cost or unlicensed lender (loan shark)
· 23% expressed worries about potential homelessness, 33% wouldn’t know where to get help with housing.
· 25% had had difficulties due to the move away from cash payments or difficulties accessing cash
· 39% expressed concerns about the remainder of 2020 due to uncertainty about money
Additionally, data revealed during the summit showed the following:
· Unemployment across the city is predicted to reach 17% by the end of the year (according to D2N2, the local enterprise partnership)
· 15 of the city’s 20 wards have already seen an increase in unemployment, with Hyson Green and Arboretum wards faring the worst
Emma Bates, of NFRP and the summit’s chair, commented: “I was really encouraged to hear a widespread commitment from all participants to work together for the good of the city. We want people to know that we’re on their side, they’re not alone, and that vital help is available.”
“We fully intend to follow up on the various commitments made by our expert panellists during the summit, to make sure they keep to their word! It’s important we build on this event and realise the shared purpose to do everything possible protect people’s financial wellbeing.”
Nigel Webster, Bestwood & Bulwell food bank project manager, commented: “As we move through the pandemic there will be lots of issues thrown up for people and it’s really important that as a food bank we are able to join in with other services who are tackling some of the underlying issues people have. Partnership is really important so we can link people to the help they need for other issues. Food banks can’t be a sticking plaster. We’re now seeing people who have never used a food bank before, so it will be really important that people can get all the help that they need, from the different services in the city.”
Linda, a local mum of three who joined a local ‘Money Hub’ group set up by the Nottingham Financial Resilience Partnership, commented: “Before joining the Money Hub, I had loads of high cost loans and my credit rating was so low. It said, ‘Very Poor’. Because of what I learnt, I paid off all the loans and my credit rating has gone up loads! I understand now, what to look for with credit, and to check the terms. Before, I didn’t check. I also stopped borrowing money all the time off my friends and family.
“I sorted my budgeting out and I write it all down in a diary. I was even able to save £300, which I’d never been able to do before, and that’s a lot when you’re on benefits! Being in the Money Hub completely changed my thought processes. It really helped me.”
The summit highlighted a worrying range of pandemic impacts, including unemployment, problem debt, homelessness, reduced access to cash, digital exclusion, and food poverty.
Expert panellists and key postholders were given the opportunity to reflect on the insight shared during the session and the subsequent discussions and, importantly, to commit to take some action to help support local people.
These commitments included organising a local public awareness campaign to highlight various support available, arranging a local jobs summit, the sharing of insight by local foodbank services to enable a more joined up response, embedding financial inclusion within the local health & wellbeing strategy, promoting more workforce diversity and equal opportunities, and for all public-facing services to provide more holistic support around a wide range of relevant topics.
Residents in need of help with money issues, including benefits, debt and food, can find guidance and details of local support services by visiting the Ask Lion website.