By Cllr Greg Peck
The main challenge facing us all is the spiralling cost of living, which is hitting a wide number of households hard. That is why Norfolk County Council has created a new scheme that is flexible and can reach a broader range of people than previous hardship schemes. This includes families in need, older people and other vulnerable households.
The £7.7 million Norfolk Cost of Living Support Scheme, which will run until October, will be administered as follows:
- £3.6m to support families with seven, monthly cost of living vouchers for children eligible for means-tested free school meals. The payments will be £15 per month, per child, with an enhanced payment of £30 for August, to coincide with the school holidays. The total value will be £120 per child, over the course of the scheme. The vouchers will be paid from April (backdated) up to and including October. This approach gives families flexibility and choice by allowing them to budget monthly and offset vouchers against other financial pressures on their household bills and activities. It also means families will have payments during and outside school holidays with the option of saving them to use only in the school holidays if they prefer.
- £1m allocated to the council’s Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) to support families in hardship, where there isn’t eligibility for free school meals. This support is available to families with very young children, young carers and families caring for children with disabilities, many of whom may be facing significantly higher energy bills.
- £2.2m, a third of the government funding, to support those aged 65 or over by providing cash and voucher awards through the voluntary sector and other partners, including a specific collaboration with Anglian Water, as well as support through NAS. The work with Anglian Water will support customers aged 65 or over who are on Anglian Water’s social tariffs, because they are in financial difficulty, providing a package of support to reduce and prevent debt. A total of £700,000 of this funding will be distributed to district, borough and city councils to support vulnerable communities.
- £840,000 to support others in need, including funding for district, borough and city councils to meet immediate housing related concerns. This part of the scheme will also mean that voluntary sector agencies can refer those they are working with to the council for support.
I would encourage any residents who find themselves in hardship to contact Norfolk County Council on 0344 800 8020, so the council can offer support either directly or through their partners.
Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282