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Council Takes Fast Action on Cost of Living Support

13 December 2022

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West Devon Borough Council's Hub Committee are stepping in to help vulnerable families and communities during the cost of living crisis. The most vulnerable in the Borough will receive financial support and essential household goods and clothing to help keep them warm and reduce costs.

The Government has made available £421m of funding in England to support those with the soaring cost of living. From that funding, £124,407 has been allocated by Devon County Council to support West Devon households.

The money will be redistributed immediately into the hands of those most in need within the Borough. The Council is aiming the support at residents who may not have been eligible for any other support from Government.

The help will come to residents in the following ways:

1.      £650 to working age households receiving Council Tax Reduction and not receiving certain benefits including: Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance Income-Based, Employment and Support Allowance Income-Related, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit on 1 December 2022

2.      £300 to households in receipt of Council Tax Disabled Band Reduction on 1 December 2022

3.      £10,000 of long-term support and sustainable options to residents dealing with higher energy costs

4.      Using the balance of the funding to offer an open application process to provide support to low income households and others in financial need.

Putting the £10,000 to best use, the Council will work with key partners to distribute slow cookers and cookbooks, electric blankets, warm clothing and sleeping bags to households based on residents' needs. 

Cllr Tony Leech, West Devon Lead Member for the Cost of Living said: "We want to target this money and support as quickly as possible to our residents who have missed out on all other help. Particularly those who might have higher costs due to disability energy needs. Those low income households in need, whether families with children, pensioners, unpaid carers, care leavers or disabled people. Whoever they are, we want to make sure they get this money into their pockets to make a difference especially during this exceptionally cold spell.

"One of the ways we're helping is by working with our partners to provide essential items which are cost effective. Things like slow cookers and cookbooks specifically for them, electric blankets, warm winter clothing and sleeping bags for extra heat specifically for those who need extra help. Good food and warmth is so very crucial to keeping healthy and that's why we've put together this plan of action and acted as soon as possible. We will also be investigating the purchase of clothes driers, since drying clothes within the home can cause condensation, which can cause more damp and mould issues.

"We have until March 2023 to spend this funding, so it's important that we get this money out the door as quickly as possible. If there is any money left over, we will encourage our residents who still need help, to get in touch with us and we will do everything we can to support them."        

By providing slow cookers and electric blankets to residents, the hope is it will also deliver longer term and sustainable options to residents dealing with higher energy costs. Having financial worries has a huge knock-on effect to mental health, work and family and the results can be profound if help isn't on hand.

Cllr Leech continued: "It is important that residents understand that there is no shame in asking for help. It is a difficult time now with exceptionally high demands on budgets and the often-lower incomes in the region, which can be a struggle for anyone with high costs of living.

"Our residents need to know where they can go to get help and we will continue to work closely with the Citizens Advice and Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) who are on hand daily to support residents during this difficult time."

If you are currently looking for help or advice on the Cost of Living, here is the advice already available: www.westdevon.gov.uk/household-support-fund

For information on the Council's Cost of Living Support Directory, go to: www.westdevon.gov.uk/support-directory

SIGN UP TO COST OF LIVING ADVICE E-BULLETINhttps://bit.ly/3SNNkeu

To watch the live recording of the Hub Committee, go to: www.youtube.com/@westdevonboroughcouncil23/streams

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