The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead is continuing to use a targeted fund to help residents in severe financial hardship and at risk of problems escalating due to the rising cost of living.
The council has been given £1,175,810 in the latest round of the government’s Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households most in need through to April 2024. This will again be allocated through two distinct schemes. People who were supported under the previous round of the fund can reapply.
Following successful allocation of the previous tranche of funding, which helped support more than 1,100 families, the council is re-opening the first scheme to continue to help vulnerable residents having to make very difficult choices around household expenditure. This complements wider cost of living support the council is promoting with partners through its ‘Here to Help’ campaign. See www.rbwm.gov.uk/here-to-help
To target the limited national funding, 13 frontline distribution partners will continue to identify those residents in greatest need to receive a one-off cash payment of £145. Residents will also be supported to explore further cost of living help that might be available to them. See www.rbwm.gov.uk/home/community-and-living/community-support/here-help/household-support-fund
Citizens Advice East Berkshire will again play an overarching role, and should be a first port of call for residents who would like to put themselves forward for support. Residents are not able to apply to the council directly.
The second scheme enables the council to continue to provide £20 food vouchers per child, for each week of the school holidays, for families in receipt of free school meals. This funding has supported 3,000 families with food vouchers over April half term and will continue to support these families over the summer holiday, October half term, Christmas and February 2024 half term.
Councillor Catherine del Campo, Cabinet member for Adult Services and Health, said: “The rise in the cost of living has impacted everyone in the borough, and we know some residents are experiencing severe financial hardship. We’re doing all we can to help the hardest hit, working with our partners and with the limited funding available.
“We have developed these schemes with our partners to identify residents who will benefit most from these payments and connect them to wider cost-of-living support.
“These are challenging circumstances for all residents, and we want to ensure that everyone throughout the borough has the financial resilience to cope. If you’re struggling financially and facing difficult decisions then please contact Citizens Advice East Berkshire, or our other partners, and you can also check our ‘Here to Help’ web pages to explore cost of living support before you reach crisis point.”
Gordon Ackroyd, CEO of Citizens Advice East Berkshire, said: “At Citizens Advice East Berkshire, we see the Household Support Fund making a real difference in our communities, where some are facing historic levels of hardship.
“We are long term partners of the council, known for the value and quality of our advice, and are recognised as the first to turn to by residents struggling with the rising cost of living. This has been a great chance to meet with Simon to show CAEB in action helping locals make the right choices in hard times.”
Last year, the council with its partners launched ‘Here to Help’, a promotional campaign bringing together cost of living support and encouraging residents facing difficult decisions around food, rent or heating to visit www.rbwm.gov.uk/here-to-help or call 01628 683800 to see what help might be available.
All local libraries continue to operate as safe places for the community. People are welcome to use library facilities, explore the ‘Here to Help’ website on the public-access computers and speak with a librarian for advice around cost-of-living support and/or getting online.