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Council announces £3.4million boost for residents as cost of living crisis bites

Published 2nd November 2022

Sandwell Council has confirmed how millions of pounds will be spent supporting residents through the cost of living crisis in the coming months.

Spending from the £3.4million Household Support Fund will be used to continue offering food vouchers for children eligible for free school meals during school holidays.

The council will also be making payments to some households that missed out on previous financial help with energy bills, and helping tenants who don’t receive benefits with rent and rent arrears.

Here’s how Sandwell’s October to March Household Support Fund will be spent:

  • £1.8million will be spent funding food vouchers for 18,000 children eligible for free school meals over the October, Christmas, February half-term and Easter holidays.
  • £325,000 will be used helping 500 low income households that missed out on the £650 Cost of Living payment as they weren’t on a qualifying benefit.
  • £190,000 will be used to support 450 care leavers and foster carers and special guardians.
  • A further £275,000 will be used to support the council’s Local Welfare Provision scheme – where residents can apply for financial help in a crisis.
  • £100,000 will be given to local foodbanks
  • £126,000 will be spent supporting disabled households who receive Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, who are most affected by increasing energy bills.
  • The council is also working with schools on a range of measures to ensure children are well fed, including help to set up breakfast clubs, free school meals for children whose families just miss out on the eligibility criteria and helping families struggling to send their children to school with packed lunches. £300k has been set aside for this support.
  • £200,000 will fund helping council and private tenants on a low income and not in receipt of benefits who are struggling with rent and rent arrears.
  • £15,000 will be spent helping Sandwell families who are hosting refugees from Ukraine with increased household costs.
  • £20,000 will support the running of the council’s 29 Warm Spaces.

Tenants on a low income and not in receipt of benefits will be able to request assistance with their rent and rent arrears in the coming months.

For those experiencing exceptional financial hardship, applications can be made to the Local Welfare Provision Scheme. The criteria and application form can be found on the Local Welfare Provision Scheme webpage.

There’s no need to apply for the other Household Support Funding mentioned above – payments will be made automatically to eligible households this winter.

Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Kerrie Carmichael said: “We know that people are really worried about the coming winter and beyond.

“So, we’re using this funding to reach the people most affected by the rising cost of living.

“That includes us helping families who may have just missed out on previous payments because they were not eligible, and also helping disabled people who are going to be among the most impacted by increasing energy costs.

“We know that some council and private tenants who don’t qualify for benefits are struggling with their rent and rent arrears, so we are committing some of this funding to helping them as well.

“Tackling the cost of living crisis in Sandwell is as big a challenge as the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are doing absolutely all we can to support people on a practical, financial and emotional level.”

Councillor Bob Piper, Deputy Leader of Sandwell Council and cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We’re absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help Sandwell residents during what is going to be a very tough winter – and beyond.

“We know everyone is feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis and our priority as a council is to help as many households as we possibly can.”

In addition to the Household Support Fund spending, the council has launched a Supporting Sandwell online information hub and 29 Warm Spaces in council buildings for residents who are unable to heat their own homes.

Sandwell was also one of the first councils to begin making payments of the Council Tax Energy Bills Rebate, distributing more than £19million to residents – including households in higher Council Tax bands (E to H) and extra payments to households receiving Council Tax Reduction.

For more details on the help and advice available, search for the Supporting Sandwell information hub online

Information about Warm Spaces and where to find them