Help for Wirral residents with rising cost of living

10 November 2022
Wallasey town hall from the promenade

A range of measures are in place in Wirral to help residents struggling with the rising cost of living this winter.

It follows the deterioration in the economic backdrop over the past few months.

There have been higher oil, gas and commodity prices resulting in rising and persistent inflation. Also, supply chain bottlenecks are being made worse by war in Ukraine and lockdowns in China meaning goods are being traded less freely.

This has impacted on everyone’s cost of living. A report on this to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee said there are increasing reports of residents forced to make “choices between heating or eating” and having to prioritise these over other basic but important needs.

Financial support available to residents includes both local and national schemes. These include:

  • Government Fuel Rebate scheme. The council has been administering the government scheme to make £150 payments to residents to help with the rising price of fuel. To date the council has distributed nearly 129,000 payments totalling £19.3M.
  • Winter Fuel Payments. This is for those born on or before 25 September 1956 who could get between £250 and £600 to help pay heating bills.
  • Help with Council Tax. Wirral offers up to 100% council tax support for the most vulnerable residents, while for those on low incomes support is available up to 87.5% of the total council tax charge. The amount charged is based on the income of the resident.
  • Emergency financial support schemes. This is financial support available from Wirral Council for individuals and families in crisis, usually paid due to an emergency or disaster.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments. These can be made in addition to main Housing Benefit or Universal Credit in some circumstances to help tenants who are experiencing financial hardship.
  • Additional financial support for most vulnerable pensioners. Wirral pensioners who qualify for additional financial support to help address rises in energy prices and cost of living are set to receive a one-off contribution of £157, made by Post Office ‘Payout’ voucher from a £3m grant Wirral Council obtained from the government.

These have seen £4.5million allocated out of £5.7 million so far.

Further details of the support currently available to help with cost of living can be found at the Cost of Living page on the council website. This includes information on additional help such as free school meals, money and debt advice and help with reducing costs of energy.

You can also check for details of community-based assistance on offer.

Also available is the borough’s Warm Hub Initiative in which council libraries are among those locations being made available to residents this winter to stay warm.

In addition, £1.2 million has been re-allocated from the Contain Outbreak Management Funds (COMF) to support local communities tackle cost-of-living challenges.

This funding will allow community, voluntary and faith organisations to increase the capacity of their services and support those communities and vulnerable residents who are most in need.

Details of the community organisations which are also providing warm places are available on Wirral Infobank which will be updated weekly over the winter.

The decision to use council resources to help residents in this way was agreed at the council’s Policy and Resources Committee (November 9) as part of a series of measures to help people struggling with the cost of living increases.

Wirral Council’s Leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: “Back in August it was clear we residents would be facing rising energy bills and food costs. As a result we established a Cost of Living Action Group to look at what the council can do to help, both directly and by supporting our amazing community, voluntary and faith sectors who work so hard to help and support Wirral’s communities.

“It is vital that the council uses any resources available to help residents through what is likely to be a very difficult winter and as the actions outlined above show, we are doing exactly that.

“I would also like to use this opportunity to ask as many people as possible to share details of this help so everyone who needs aid can access it. This could prove to be vital support for someone who is struggling to stay warm and safe this winter.”

Other assistance being provided this winter includes:

Fuel Poverty Service Capacity £500,000 split between those on pre-payment meters and those who pay for their fuel by direct debit or in arrears:

  • Prepayments meters funding is provided to Fuel Bank to reimburse them for vouchers issued to people on pre-payment metres who are unable to top up meters. This assistance is provided via application to Wirral councils’ Emergency Support Team.
  • For Billed Customers the council also supports residents with large fuel debts via application to CAB. This may enable residents to move to cheaper tariffs as customers are unable to switch fuel tariffs whilst they are in debt.

The council has been awarded and additional £3m and has recently submitted a proposal to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as to how this should be allocated, for the period covering October 22 to March 23 from an extension to the Government’s Household Support Fund. This will be targeted at the borough’s most vulnerable residents. The DWP has provided more than £6 million to Wirral since December 2020 under the Household Support Fund. The previous funding of £3.049 million was used towards various including School Food Pantries, school holiday hampers, crisis support emergency heating, winter warmer packs, out of school activities, housing support, and over 65s support amongst others.

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