Wiltshire Council will be using a Government grant to help ensure as many vulnerable people as possible in the county are safe, warm and fed this winter.
The Government’s £421 million national Household Support Grant Scheme was made available in early October 2021 to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, lighting), water bills and other essential costs.
The council was awarded £2,728,656 as part of the scheme and has liaised with partner agencies to agree how the money should be allocated.
The aim of the scheme is to give vulnerable households peace of mind in the run up to Christmas and over the winter months by helping to make sure they have food other essentials, such as heat and electric.
The money will be used for the following initiatives delivered by Wiltshire Council; there is no need for people to apply to Wiltshire Council for any funding from the Household Support Grant Scheme. Eligible people will be identified and contacted individually via:
- Food payments during the school holidays from last month’s half term up to and including Easter for families who are eligible for free school meals/ Better2Gether Funding (free childcare for two-year olds) and Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP).
- Providing financial contribution to low-income households with children who are not eligible for the above food payments as well as to low-income households without children. These one-off payments will be made directly to working age low-income residents who are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction at the relevant times. Eligible people will be contacted directly.
- Support for rough sleepers with money for food, and energy set-up costs at new accommodation as well as support for those at risk of homelessness; this support will be administered by the council’s Housing Department
- Supporting Wiltshire Council tenants with fuel and food costs; this will be administered by the council’s Housing Department
- Financial support for Food Banks and linked projects to ensure they are able to purchase and provide food to those most in need
More information can be found at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/benefits/household-support-grant-winter.
In addition to this support, Wiltshire Council has also provided funding for the following initiatives, and people are asked to contact the relevant partner organisations for any more information they may need:
- Support for older and vulnerable people with underlying health conditions – Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign provides practical and financial help for people living in fuel poverty. From 1 November, people who are in receipt of means-tested benefit and are aged over 65 or suffer from a long-term health condition, may be eligible for assistance including fuel vouchers and a range of advice. For more information about eligibility and help available contact Warm and Safe Wiltshire on 0800 038 5722.
- Providing financial assistance to elderly residents affected by food poverty and rural isolation who are registered for Age UK’s warm meals service; for further information contact Age UK Community Meals on 01793 279606
- Providing fuel poverty support for those most in need – for households of working age earning less than the Real Living Wage and suffering with isolation, anxiety and mental health or from a hard-to-reach community like visually impaired, hard of hearing and the Boater and Travellers. Eligible residents can contact Warm and Safe Wiltshire on 0800 038 5722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.warmandsafewiltshire.org.uk
If people do not have internet access and have no family member, friend or neighbour that can assist, they can contact the council by phone on 0300 456 0100 who will be able to view the information for them.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We welcome this extra support as we’re expecting winter to be a challenging time for some of our residents, so we hope this can ease the pressure they may be feeling
“We’re pleased to be working with local organisations to help get this money out to those who need it most, and we hope it gives those eligible a little bit of comfort and peace of mind.”
The Wellbeing Hub at Wiltshire Council remains available in order to provide support and signposting for all residents across Wiltshire, as part of the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The hub can be contacted by telephoning 0300 003 4576 or via e mail at Wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk.