The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead is using 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 £587,905 in the latest round of the government’s Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households most in need this winter. This will be allocated in two ways.
Around £300,000 will help vulnerable residents having to make very difficult choices around household expenditure, such as between heating and eating. This complements wider cost of living support the council is promoting with partners through its wider ‘Here to Help’ campaign. See www.rbwm.gov.uk/here-to-help.
To target the limited national funding, nine frontline distribution partners will 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.
The remaining Household Support Fund 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 is supporting 3,000 families with food vouchers over four weeks in the October half term, Christmas and February half term.
Councillor Andrew Johnson, the council leader, said: “As winter approaches, we know the extra cost of heating, together with high inflation, will put some people into 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 know that timely grants and food vouchers can make a big difference to those most in need and reduce the risk of problems escalating. With the payments, our partners already working directly with communities are best placed to identify who will benefit most and connect them to wider cost of living support.
“We know this is going to be a challenging winter for many people, and we want to ensure that everyone across our community has the financial resilience to cope. If you’re struggling financially and facing difficult decisions then please check our ‘Here to Help’ webpages to explore cost of living support before you reach crisis point.”
During the spring, 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.
Last month, the council started promoting a growing network of safe, warm spaces where people in need can go this winter. A number of partner organisations now offer safe, warm spaces, along with advice and support, at 12 local venues, which can be seen on a map on the ‘Here to Help’ website.
All local libraries are also 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.