Fears poverty will increase this winter as increasing energy and food costs hit residents in Ceredigion have been raised by councillors.

How to support people who are struggling this winter was subject to a multi-agency meeting this week with members of the corporate overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (October 3).

Members were discussing the latest report on the five year tackling hardship strategy, which is monitored by the Ceredigion Public Services Board (PSB) to provide a coordinating response to the increased risk of hardship.

This was initially focusing on the impact of covid-19 but there is now a “change in focus” because of the rising cost of living and “we know of course, there’s further hardship ahead of us,” said Cllr Catrin MS Davies, cabinet member for through age and wellbeing.

Cllr Rhodri Evans asked what was being done with increasing food banks and rising energy costs, adding “there are many out here that are finding it difficult at present” with problems only going to get worse.

Cllr Davies said that a meeting of agencies was to be held on October 4 focusing on “practical discussion about what to do next.”

The high levels of child poverty in Ceredigion – with 3,500 children living in poverty – and falling childcare spaces are “a real concern.”

The recent Welsh Government schemes for free school meals and free childcare for all two-year-olds were positive steps, the committee felt.

Work will continue to record data to aid understanding of the evolving impact of hardship and the list of partners that contribute to the action plan will be reviewed, with changes made to reflect the focus on the rising costs of living, a report to committee notes.