Details of how a hardship fund of £200,000, earmarked for those affected by the New Ferry explosion in 2017, should be allocated will be discussed by Wirral Council’s Cabinet at its next meeting on 22nd July.
The report has been written and compiled after discussions with elected members and members of the New Ferry and Port Sunlight communities and seeks to ensure that the £200,000 set aside by Cabinet in February this year is allocated quickly, efficiently and fairly.
The result is a report that proposes giving £1,600 to each of the 83 people identified as being made homeless for more than a week after the explosion on March 25th 2017. It also proposes the same amount for businesses affected as a result of being situated within the emergency police cordon in the days following the incident.
In addition, the remainder of the £200,000 – amounting to at least £16,000 – will be used as a community fund to be allocated as grants to social sector organisations in the area under a bidding process.
Cllr Janette Williamson, Cabinet member for Finance and Resources, welcomed the publication of the report, particularly coming so soon after the news that New Ferry is also likely to receive central government assistance under the Future High Streets fund.
“We will never remove the distress, hardship and trauma suffered by the people of New Ferry,” Cllr Williamson said. “The dignity and spirit shown by this community since that terrible night has been nothing short of astounding and I think the way they have responded to the challenges they have faced is an example to us all.
“While the recent news of potential Government funding to help rebuild the town is heartening, we must not lose sight of the human impact of this incident. That is why I’m so pleased to be in a position to agree this hardship fund, which will provide direct help to those who need it most.”
In the report, council officers say they are confident that through the work that was done during the immediate emergency and recovery phase after the explosion they have a comprehensive picture of the numbers of people and businesses affected and entitled to a share of the fund. This should act as a safeguard against any potentially false or fraudulent claims.
They also say due to the information they collected, they will be able to complete the process of allocating the money to individuals and businesses within four weeks of the money being released via a simple claim form.
The community fund will clearly take longer to allocate due to the need to conduct a bidding/application process.