The cost of living is affecting us all. Rising inflation and energy prices are hitting households hard, adding substantial amounts to our annual bills.
The BBC report today that prices for food, energy and fuel are continuing to rise at their fastest rate for 40 years, with Office for National Statistics data indicating that UK inflation is now up to 9.1 per cent in the 12 months to May.
The government has said that its £200 energy rebate will be doubled to £400, and will no longer have to be repaid. And that a £650 one-off payment will be available to support the country’s most vulnerable, paid to people in receipt of means-tested benefits. You can read more about that on the government’s website.
But we are also keeping advice and guidance up to date on our website to help people in Devon with their rising costs.
We have been allocated around £5 million, by the government, to support low-income families, in a scheme called the Household Support Fund, which runs until September 2022.
It’s to provide rapid short-term financial support to households who may be struggling to afford to pay for their energy, water, food or other essential items.
There are conditions on how the Household Support Fund can be allocated, with at least a third of it needing to support households in which there are children or young people; at least a third must also be used to support households that include people of state pensionable age; and the rest can be used for other vulnerable households who are struggling to meet their food, energy, water and other essential bills.
We’re also working with Citizen’s Advice Devon with a scheme to support people using pre-payment meters who are struggling to meet their energy needs. And we’re working with our District/City councils to provide further funding to support eligible households who are vulnerable and struggling financially to buy food, water, energy, essential and exceptional (eg rent arrears) provision.
We are also encouraging parents and guardians whose financial circumstances may have changed or who are struggling with rising food prices, to check their eligibility and apply for free school meals.
Families eligible for benefit-related free school meals will also receive holiday vouchers to help pay for their food shopping at a range of supermarkets, for six weeks over the summer holiday.
And 40,000 places are available now for young people, aged five to 16, who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals, to take part in our summer holiday activities and food programme, for free. We have a wide range of activities, which include healthy, nutritional, hot meals.
And, if you have a household income of less than £30,000 a year, you may be eligible for free energy efficiency improvements to your home worth thousands of pounds, which is better for the environment and will save on energy bills.