Council's pledge 'nobody should go cold or hungry this winter' as Household Support Fund launched in West Northamptonshire
Government's £2.6m kitty to help support the area's most vulnerable
Councillors say 'nobody should cold or hungry this winter' after revealing a £2.6million fighting fund to help the area's most vulnerable.
The cash comes from the government Household Support Fund designed to help the less well-off as the local economy continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Support will range from holiday school meal vouchers to a 'fuel bank' supporting the maintenance of energy within households over the winter.
Cllr Fiona Baker, WNC’s Cabinet Member for children, families and education, said: “We welcome the funding from the government’s Household Support Fund, which in West Northamptonshire will go towards helping those most in need to get back on their feet following the height and the horrors of the pandemic.
“No one should go cold or hungry this winter.
"We’ll be working hard with our partners to make sure that is a reality and that people feel supported towards living healthy and fulfilling lives in our county.”
UK inflation jumped to a near-decade high as soaring energy and fuel prices pushed up the cost of living.
The Office for National Statistics said the rate of Consumer Prices Index inflation rose sharply from 3.1 percent in September to 4.2 percent last month – the highest level since December 2011 and a bigger-than-expected jump.
The energy crisis, which has seen a number of gas and electricity suppliers collapse, will lead to rising bills for hundreds of thousands of households, plunging many into fuel poverty for the first time.
Average costs climbed from £1,138 a year to £1,277 a year in October under the energy regulator’s price cap and are predicted to go even higher.
A fuel bank works like a food bank but offers emergency energy top-ups instead of grocery parcels.
Labour Group deputy leader Councillor, Emma Roberts, said: “I hope this money will help our most vulnerable families keep money in the meter and food on the table this winter, but this is simply not enough. This funding is a sticking plaster for a problem that has only been worsened by the pandemic, not created by it.
"For many in West Northants, this winter will be bleak, if the government expects a thank you for the very little it gives, in comparison to the sheer amount it has taken away, then it is sorely mistaken."
These will be available to residents on pre-payment meters who have disconnected from the energy network (or are at imminent risk of disconnecting) and lack the means to keep the light or heat on. Eligible residents will receive a same-day £40 emergency credit.
The scheme went live on Wednesday (December 1) with direct applications made through Citizens Advice and Job Centre Plus.
The Household Support Fund is a third version of the Covid-19 Winter Grant Scheme originally launched in November 2020. This latest fund will be available up to March 2022.
As previously, there is a stipulation that a minimum of 50 percent of the fund must be used to support families with children.
■ Click HERE to visit the WNC Household Support Fund page for more information.