We are announcing a new pot of funding to help residents who are struggling to afford to pay for their gas, electricity or water usage, buy food or other essential items.
The Household Support Fund is a government initiative, and in the latest funding round Devon will be allocated around £5 million.
There are conditions on how the money can be used, but we are prioritising up to £200,000 to support Devon residents who have prepayment, or ‘pay-as-you-go’ meters, to pay rising energy bills.
Most of the fund however will be targeted at families with children and people of pensionable age, who are struggling financially.
With the cost of living crises starting to bite, the latest Household Support Funding will be a timely reprieve to many households, says Cllr Roger Croad, who is responsible for communities.
“Rising energy and petrol prices, and rising costs of goods in our shops and on our supermarket shelves at a time when a lot of households have seen reductions in their incomes, means many people in Devon are feeling the pinch.
“For example, prepay customers are often already paying more for their energy, are more likely to be in vulnerable circumstances, and have seen their energy prices rise considerably in recent months.”
We are working with the eight District and City Councils in Devon, and Citizens Advice Devon, to develop schemes to make the funding available.
“Working with Citizens Advice Devon, we intend to provide further support to prepayment meter customers, who are struggling to pay for their new higher energy costs,” said Cllr Croad.
“We will also continue to make our free school meal holiday vouchers available for the seven week May half-term and summer holidays, to ensure children and young people who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals don’t go hungry during the holidays.
“And we are working with our District Council colleagues to identify people of pensionable age, that we know from local data are struggling financially, to offer some additional one-off assistance.”
Janie Moor, Chief Officer for Citizens Advice South Hams, said:
“We are extremely worried that the cost of living crisis means that more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. We are campaigning for target support from the government for those on the lowest incomes. In the meantime, our website has self-help advice or people can contact their local Citizens Advice.”
Further details on the above funded initiatives will be made available, as their development is finalised.