£3 million to support residents facing rising living costs

23 May 2024
Photo of the foodbank manager, a foodbank volunteer and the Wirral Council Leader in Wirral foodbank holding a foodbank sign.
L-R: Foodbank manager, Richard, Foodbank volunteer, Mel, and Cllr Paul Stuart

Residents who are struggling with the rising cost of living and need help with food and energy bills may be able to access support through the latest round of the Household Support Fund.

Wirral Council has secured just over £3 million, under round five of the Government’s Household Support Fund. The latest award means that Wirral has received around £18.29 million from the Household Support Fund, since the scheme was launched in September 2021.

The Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Paul Stuart, said: 

The impact of the cost of living crisis has left many people struggling to put food on the table and money on their energy meters. As with previous rounds, this latest HSF funding is much needed, but it is not enough to meet every need.

In Wirral, we target these funds to the people who need them most. We work alongside local charities, community groups, schools and faith groups to deliver support, using their excellent local knowledge and connections to help people on the ground and those who might otherwise go under-the-radar. We’ve found this approach to be very successful in helping us to extend our reach within local communities – something which has been recognised by Department of Work and Pension (DWP) colleagues nationally.

I would urge anyone who is struggling, or knows of someone who is, to find out what help is available and get the support they need.

The £3 million awarded under the latest phase must be spent by September 2024 and will be used to provide the following support:

Small Grants Programme (£1,000,000)
Grants of up to £20,000 will enable community-based food and welfare support groups to provide food and essential items to those most in need in their local communities. Organisations will be invited to apply for grants shortly.

Food provision, Hampers and Pantries (£750,000)
Local charity Neo Community will deliver food support to people who are struggling. They will help by:
•    Offering hampers of food and other essential items during school holidays to eligible families with children. Other families with children under five who are struggling are encouraged to contact their nearest Children's Centre to discuss applying.
•    Supporting School Food Pantries, where local schools with appropriate storage facilities will receive fresh produce to complement the dry and long-life items provided through the School Pantry project.
•    Supporting Care Leavers Food Pantry, which provides fresh food items to local care leavers to complement the existing pantry offering dry and long-life goods.

Financial Support with Fuel and with Fuel & Water Debt (£600,000)
This scheme will allow vulnerable residents who are unable to pay for the fuel they need to heat and power their homes, or are struggling to deal with fuel and water debt, to apply for help in several ways:

- Those with pre-payment meters can request a fuel voucher (gas and electric) from national charity, Fuel bank Foundation, via their local delivery partners Citizens Advice Wirral, Involve Northwest and Energy Projects Plus as well as via the Council’s Emergency Financial Support Scheme.

- People struggling with fuel and water debt can request help to clear or reduce their debt from Citizens Advice Wirral and Energy Projects Plus.

People in crisis situations who are unable to repair or replace broken or obsolete heating and do not qualify for help under other programmes can apply from Energy Projects Plus under their Crisis Support With Heating scheme.

Wirral Foodbank (£100,000)
To buy food supplies for some of Wirral’s most vulnerable residents.

Emergency Support Fund (£100,000)
This funding will allow the Council to enhance its existing Emergency Financial Support Scheme to help more people in crisis situations. More information, including how to apply, is available on the Wirral Council Website.

Quality of Life Support for Over 65s (£75,000)
Around 650 older people in Wirral will benefit from this Age UK initiative, which will deliver a range of projects. These will focus on nutrition, maintaining and increasing independence at home, avoiding hospital admission, practical and financial support for carers and vulnerable older people with essential items and bills. For more information contact Age UK Wirral.

Crisis support with white goods (£50,000)
Vulnerable residents who do not qualify under the Council’s Emergency Financial Support Scheme can apply for white goods, including washing machines, cookers and fridges, and other essential household items from North Birkenhead Development Trust (project is not restricted to Birkenhead) and St Vincent de Paul Society, Wirral. Applications should be submitted via local referral agencies such as Citizens Advice Wirral and Involve Northwest.

Out of School activities - Holiday Activities and Food Support (£75,000)
The Household Support Fund will provide the food element of the holiday activity and food programme (HAF), which engages thousands of free school meal-eligible young people across the borough during the school holidays.

Advice & Support with Income Maximisation (£50,000)
Advice and support to help local residents ensure that they are accessing all eligible income streams available - including debt and benefit advice and signposting to existing support services.

Housing Support Costs (£40,000)
Housing costs can be supported in exceptional cases of genuine emergency where existing housing support schemes and Universal Credit cannot help. This scheme cannot provide housing support on an ongoing basis, support unsustainable tenancies, or provide mortgage support. More information is available on the Wirral Council website

Heating & plumbing appliance repair/replacement (£20,000)
Residents on a low income who are in urgent need of repairs or a replacements to their heating or plumbing systems or appliances can apply for help from Energy Projects Plus.

More information
More information about help available is available on the Wirral Council website at https://www.wirral.gov.uk/costofliving or by calling 0151 606 2005 if you are unable to go online.

To see other support that may be available to you, please visit the Government's Cost of Living Hub.
Information about food and other support available to residents is also posted on the Wirral Infobank website.

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