Vulnerable residents in Knowsley will be eligible for financial support over the next year to help pay for household essentials and bills as the cost of living crisis deepens.
The support package, which comprises two previously established funds, will amount to £6.8m and covers the period from March 2021 to March 2023. The support is funded through the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, which was first announced in March 2021 as a £2.5m support package.
Knowsley Council has announced that this has been increased by £0.5m and takes the Hardship Fund’s total to £3m. The full package of support is rounded off by the Government’s Household Support Fund – £1.862m of which was to cover September 2021 to March 2022 and a further £1.862m to cover April to September 2022.
According to the local authority, the Government has issued guidance regarding the potential to use the Household Support Fund to support residents that receive a state pension who also receive Pension Credit. Within Knowsley approximately 6,000 residents meet this criteria, according to the council.
This support would mean £103 of support would be granted per pensioner from the Household Support Fund. But Knowsley Council will look to top this up through its Hardship fund, meaning £200 can be allocated to each pensioner and help cover the costs of household essentials, food, heating and other bills.
The original Household Support Fund was announced in September 2021 by the Government to support vulnerable households to meet daily costs such as food, clothing and utilities over the winter in 2021, with the second round of funding specifying that a third of the funding must support pensioner aged residents.
The Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund was created in March 2021 to support vulnerable residents with essentials such as food, heating, debt and benefit advice, housing and job support. The Council is currently developing the scheme and is set to provide further details to eligible residents about how they will receive their £200 payment.
Knowsley council also says that further support will be provided for the continuation of free school meals, fuel grants and support for community food and essentials through Knowsley Foodbank and community partner organisations.
Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said “We have listened to our communities and the £6.8m package of support aims to address the issues affecting them. We know it’s been a struggle, particularly over the last few years with the pandemic and now with cost of living rises, and our residents need our support more than ever.
“Our support is wide-ranging and will support residents with a range of needs from employment, training, debt and welfare advice through to practical funding for fuel, food and other essential items. Importantly, for this next round of support, we are targeting our pensionable aged residents and I’m delighted to be able to confirm the £200 payment which will go some way to helping them over the coming months. It offers them the flexibility to use the funding where they will get the most benefit – whether that be to support them with fuel, food or other costs.
“We will continue to support our residents in whatever way we can and these latest funding allocations are in response to the feedback and engagement we have had with our residents.”