The scale of support given to the city’s most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, and council plans to maintain that effort while boosting recovery will be laid out for councillors next week.
Help with housing costs, food period products and cash payments direct to families are among the key welfare provisions delivered by the council, supported by local organisations and the third sector since the pandemic hit.
John Alexander convener of Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee said: “More than £1.2m was used during 2020/21 as part of our Supporting People Programme, which focussed on food related support and helping those at financial risk with things like fuel and discretionary housing payments, as well as requests for warm clothing.
“Going forward a further £981,000 will supplement the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), by tackling food insecurity, supporting fuel costs and providing additional funding for Discretionary Housing Payments.
“As we expected there has not been a ‘light-switch’ moment when we have gone from extreme need brought on by the pandemic to back to normal. Life is still proving very difficult for everyone even as restrictions are lifted and activities resume.
“That is why we have identified some £834,000 of flexible funding to meet emerging needs focused on those at risk through health and social inequalities.
“It will go into promoting integrated advice and support through community-based services, local and voluntary supports to tackle social isolation and low-level anxiety as we move out of lockdown and additional capacity for domestic abuse services to address increased demand arising from lockdown.”
Councillors will be told that during the pandemic the equivalent of 3.7m meals have been provided, there have been 728 deliveries of three months-worth of free period products, 5,406 children benefitted from winter payments and 6,531 children benefitted from spring payments. More than 6,750 crisis grants were awarded and 1,541 community care grants were allocated. A total of £2.3m of free school meals were funded, feeding an average of 6,203 children a week.
Cllr Alexander continued: “We are working hard to co-ordinate the many different sources of support and financial backing available to us to make sure that the most effective and efficient help possible is given to the city and its people to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
“Any gaps that we identify will be targeted and the sheer effort and scale of the work that has gone on so far will be translated into building back better.”
Meanwhile how council services will help to build the city’s positive recovery from the four effects of the pandemic - COVID, non COVID health, social and economic have been laid out.
Cllr Alexander added: “To better understand and tackle the complex recovery process we have broken it down into four connected themes – people, economy, infrastructure, and environment.
“Detailed plans are being drawn up to address each area focussing on the issues that the council can directly influence and therefore make most impact on.”
Among the areas under the spotlight are community engagement, child poverty and fairness, a community wealth building strategy, the green recovery and changes to the built environment.
The policy and resources committee meets on Monday (May 10).
Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.