Reminder for people struggling this winter to access finance and welfare support
Those who are eligible for extra support this winter are being reminded that there is still help available.
Shropshire Council received over £2 million from the Government’s Household Support Fund to help vulnerable residents and families pay for essentials over the winter. This includes buying food, to help paying utility bills. The money will also ensure free school meals continue to be offered to eligible children outside of school term time.
The money is extra support to be issued to local communities by the end of March 2022, and will be delivered through various finance and welfare programmes. It does not replace services that already exist for people experiencing financial difficulties.
- Household Support Fund for one off payments – If you’re one of the 3,600 households who have received a letter from us advising that you’re eligible for a one-off payment of £115 to help with essential costs this winter.
- Local Welfare Fund (also known as Local Support and Prevention Fund)
Shropshire Council has money to help with our resident’s welfare and wellbeing, help for those households who are having difficulty meeting their essential bills and essential outgoings over the winter months. So if you, or someone you know is having difficulty with bills, keeping warm, or if there is risk to the home, please get in touch with our Welfare Support Team on 0345 678 9078 (select option 2 to get through to our application line). You don’t have to be getting benefits to be able to apply.
Our friendly advisers will fill in the application for you and might also be able to point you in the direction of other useful help and advice. After that, a specialist adviser will deal with your request and will gather or ask for any other information we may need to help us to make our decision. For more information about this fund and other help that may be available please go to our webpage here: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/benefits/what-help-can-i-claim-from-the-council/local-support-and-prevention-fund/
- Free school meals – If you claim certain benefits and your child attends a Shropshire Council-maintained school or an academy school, you may be able to claim free school meals.
- Keep Shropshire Warm service – The service can provide free and impartial energy advice to those who are struggling with energy costs this winter, in particular as a result of the pandemic.
- Support for homeless people – We offer help and support to those who are homeless or worried about becoming homeless, and give advice based on individual circumstances.
Other support on offer includes
- Winter support service – We’re working alongside the British Red Cross, Age UK Shropshire Telford and Wrekin Council, and the wider Wellbeing and Independence Partnership, to ensure that residents have easy access to support where needed this winter. The service can offer assessment and ongoing support to people identified as needing help.
- Food banks, including Shropshire Larder and furniture schemes – These are community organisations or enterprises that can help people who can’t afford food, other day to day essentials and household items.
- Benefits information – Residents can also find out what benefits they are entitled to such as council tax support, housing benefit and NHS Test and Trace support payments (if you have to self-isolate).
Simon Jones, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said:-
“It’s really encouraging to see the Household Support Fund and other support programmes are now helping individuals and families to pay for essential bills and other outgoings.
“We know the pandemic has affected, and continues to affect, many families across Shropshire. I strongly urge those who are struggling to make ends meet or need that extra support to improve their wellbeing, to contact our support teams. We’re here to help.”
Communities supported through the Household Support Fund
Since October 2021 council teams have been working with local communities to issue the funds through various support services. To date Shropshire Council has:
- Provided funding for 16,841 free school meal vouchers allocated to education settings for the three weeks of October half-term and the Christmas / New Year break
- Supported 575 individuals through the hardship funds
- Issued 3,020 Universal Credit claimants, a payment of £115 each to support essential winter costs
- Allocated funding to schools to help 3,000 children access winter clothing over the spend period.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, added:-
“Children and families can get extra support this winter, with councils given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items.
“I am delighted that we have already supported thousands of families across Shropshire with this extra funding, building on the support provided through other Government- funded initiatives since the autumn of 2020.
“So please, if you or someone you know is finding it hard to support their family, get in touch with us.”
You can find out more about these services and what other winter support is available at www.shropshire.gov.uk/wintersupport.
The council’s 5 ways to winter wellness website also offers further advice and information to support your health and wellbeing throughout the winter months.
The £2.088 million of Government funding has been used for:
- Free school meals during school holiday periods for those who are eligible for FSMs or in a vulnerable situation
- Support with the costs of energy and water
- Support for wider essentials such as winter coats/gloves/scarves/shoes
- Support for homeless people
- Support for vulnerable families
- Support for Universal Credit claimants whose income is below the Free School Meals and/or free prescriptions threshold.