Written evidence from the Burmantofts Community Projects CLP0045


To what extent have the cost-of-living support payments been sufficient at helping eligible households meet the cost of essentials such as food and electricity?


Burmantofts Community Projects (BCP) is an independent charity based in Leeds. We provide free, legal debt advice, money guidance and benefits support throughout Leeds and West Yorkshire.

The need we address is the ‘alleviation of debt and poverty in Leeds and the UK.” The majority of our clients live in areas of highest deprivation, many of which are in the top 1% areas of highest deprivation in England.

We are submitting evidence because we have been directly involved in supporting some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the Leeds area.

Our involvement includes

(i)                  Issuing food and fuel vouchers to people who are vulnerable, have no money for food and or fuel or who have hit very tough times as a result of a crisis or impact of rising food and energy prices. Funds of £70,000 were obtained from the Household Support Scheme, managed by Leeds City Council to support this endeavour.

(ii)                 Providing holistic face-to-face debt advice to people who have problem debt (are unable to meet their contractual obligations).

(iii)               Providing budgeting advice, for example household income and expenditure assessments, income maximisation guidance and support

(iv)               Helping people apply for benefits, as well as supporting people with a disability attend medical assessments and tribunal appeals ( first tier)

As such we are well positioned to feedback and remark on the extent to which we believe cost of living payments have been sufficient to meet the costs of essentials such as food and electricity.

Firstly, Cost-of-Living support help has been welcomed and for households it will have made a difference. Without the support life would have been grimmer for the people we help. The degree however to which the overall support has made a significant difference is contestable and one that is not easy to quantify. However the following statistics may provide insight to difficulties faced for people after cost-of-living support payments have been accounted for.

  1. Over 50% of debt advice clients post budgeting advice did not have sufficient income to meet their basic needs of food, energy, housing, clothing and essential outgoings. Even after Cost-of-Living support people had deficit budgets and were having to make cuts that affected their ability to heat and or eat.
  2. The number of people requiring legal debt advice and for whom we managed to support was 100% higher in 2022 than 2021. In addition we had a client waiting list of 3 weeks. This has continued into 2023.
  3. The number of people we helped with financial capability support in 2022 was 9426, this was a record year. This was nearly as much as we had helped over the previous 2-3 years combined.
  4. Of fuel vouchers issued, 19% of people required a 3rd voucher ( the maximum we could issue), however had we had continued funding for fuel vouchers we expect this figure to be notably higher. It provides a snapshot in time
  5. Demand for immediate support is high, we have received 3237 calls for help since 01 April 2023 till 10 May 2023. Given the size of our organisation this is not sustainable to support over the medium to long term.

In conclusion

To reconfirm, cost-of-living support payments have helped households.

However households on lowest incomes, whether earned income/pension and benefits or benefits only have struggled. Often going without food and or heating to get by. Clients have self-disconnected their energy by not topping up their meters, out of fear for example of not having enough money for food.

Cost-of-living payments has not been sufficient to support those on low incomes sustain a standard of living where the basics, of food, energy, housing and clothing can be maintained.



May 2023