Additional cost of living support is underway for eligible West Northants residents

October 13, 2022

Financial support to help with rising food and fuel costs over the winter months is expected to be available to eligible residents of West Northamptonshire.

In line with the council’s anti-poverty strategy, families whose schoolchildren receive free school meals, workers on low pay and residents facing monetary hardship will benefit from just under £2.6million of economic support until March 2023.

Working closely with neighborhood voluntary organizations and operating via an online application process, West Northamptonshire Council will contact around 17,620 households to distribute £2,599,628, the third installment of the Department of Labor Household Support Fund and of pensions (DWP).

At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (11 October), advisers agreed on how best to use the fund within the framework set out by government ministers. Previous funding supported eligible households with food, energy and water costs. This extension will ensure that support will continue through the winter months until the end of March for those who need it most.

In a bid to offset recent further increases in food and fuel costs, the fund is offering families eligible for free school meals £15 a week of school vouchers during the semester and other school holidays until March 2023. It also offers eligible households with one person working, but on a low wage, up to £200 in food stamps. In addition to this, up to 2,000 additional households will receive food or fuel vouchers, cash in the bank or cash to cover related essential household expenses. This will come to them through voluntary organizations working on the ground in community engagement and food banks.

The exact distribution proposed for the Household Support Fund (3) is as follows:

  • Food support program during school holidays – 11,200 families will receive a total of £1,008,000. £15 x 6 weeks scheduled school holidays (22 October – 23 April). This will cover the holiday period for children in school meals, providing additional income to the household which can be offset by normal household bills. West Northamptonshire Council has already announced funding for school meals available during October school holidays.
  • Residents working but receiving a low salary – 4,420 households will receive a total of £884,000 and will receive an average payment of £200 into their bank accounts for fuel and food.
  • £650,000 Community Engagement Fund, Food Banks and Emergency Funding – Run by a Voluntary Community Service Enterprise (VCSE) and distributed through the voluntary sector. Local community groups will distribute, via voluntary organizations, up to £250 per household, assessed on a case-by-case basis. Food or fuel vouchers, cash in bank accounts or convenience products through a third party for up to 2,000 households.

Matt Golby, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said:

“Our vision continues to be of a West Northamptonshire, where everyone can live their best, prosperous and fulfilling life, free from poverty and inequality.

“The distribution of this third installment of the Household Support Fund is primarily aimed at financing the low-income sector of the working community and families with children. This is closely aligned with the deprived areas of the region, ensuring that communities living in the poorest areas are prioritized.

“The distribution of these funds will meet the financial needs of communities at large, where other grants and funding are not available. It offers a real benefit in underpinning West Northamptonshire’s anti-poverty strategy and ensuring the most needy residents receive support.

“We are building on the successful partnership of the Household Support Fund (2) with the VCSE to distribute funds via the Downstream Voluntary Organizations to residents who might not otherwise be identified by the benefit system.

“We know the pressures many are currently facing, which is why it is proposed that this fund will target support for these most vulnerable households across the county.”

Details on how to access the available funds will be made public in the coming weeks.

The WNC website will be used for industry applications who work but maintain a low salary. Individuals will be able to apply for additional financial assistance through an online application process. Details of eligibility requirements and how to apply will be released soon.

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