Vulnerable families will be given a helping hand this winter with grants available through the Household Support Fund (HSF).
Last night (Monday), Cabinet agreed to administer the scheme, where the council has been given £1,177,691.53 from the Department for Work and Pensions’ £500m HSF fund.
The money given through the fund is to help families and individuals who may struggle to pay for basic living costs this winter, including:
• water bills
• essentials linked to the above, e.g. sanitary products, warm clothing, soap, blankets, boiler service or repair
• purchase of equipment, including fridges, freezers and ovens.
Half of the council’s funding will go to families with children in receipt of Free School Meals, care leavers and families with children in early years.
Currently there are 5,507 children receiving free school meals, whose families will receive £15 per week for a total of five weeks, over the Christmas period and in February and March, to help pay for essentials.
Families with children or care leavers known to Social Care may be eligible for a level of discretionary support via their social worker or Personal Advisor, and those with children eligible for the Early Years pupil premium will be eligible for a £50 payment.
The other priority group for the HSF funding is households in receipt of Council Tax Support and those in temporary accommodation within Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO), to help with the cost of utility bills.
These groups will receive £40 per household and in the majority of these cases the payment would be made to the household’s council tax account, in lieu of a cash payment, or rent account, where the person lives in accommodation that is managed by the council and has utility charges included.
Cllr James Swindlehurst, leader of the council, said: “We are appreciative to the DWP for giving us this funding to help vulnerable local residents. We know the winter period can be a struggle and with rising costs everywhere, we hope this will help residents in a small way.”
The council will be making direct contact with those identified as being eligible for these payments.
To ensure other residents are not disadvantaged, some of the funding will be set aside for applicants who come directly to the council for assistance.
The grants will be issued on a first come, first served basis, providing the criteria is met.
The council cannot commit to further funding applications once all available funding has been allocated. The grant funding will end on 31 March 2022.