A reminder, for those facing pressure on their household budgets as the cost of living rises, of the welfare support that’s available.
B&NES is highlighting support that some families might not be aware of and encouraging people who are struggling to pay their bills to seek help and advice before financial problems become a real crisis.
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture said: “We can’t underestimate the situation facing many people with the pressure on their household bills. The squeeze on budgets is hitting everyone and for some this means a stark choice of having to choose between food or fuel. We want to make people aware of the support and advice that is out there, allowing them to take action before their problems become critical.”
The council is working hard to develop a system to distribute funds such as the council tax rebate schemeannounced by the government. The following support is already available:
- Supermarket vouchers are available to families entitled to benefit-related free school meals. An electronic voucher worth £40 per child for the Easter holiday period can be used to buy food and essential items. Households that received vouchers during the February half term will be emailed and asked to confirm they would like a voucher for Easter. Families who have not claimed before can do so here: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meal-supermarket-vouchers. If you have questions about the process, call the Benefits team on 01225 477777 (option 4).
- The Welfare Support Scheme can help people who are on a low income and in financial hardship with short-term emergency help with living costs. Residents can apply for retail vouchers, to use in a supermarket for food and household essentials, as well as access to their local foodbank. Welfare support can also help with housing costs, household items, furniture, removals, household bills and with certain debts. More information: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-welfare-support
- Housing Benefit can help with paying your rent if your name is on the tenancy agreement and you are either of pension age, living in supported accommodation or have been placed in temporary accommodation by the council. Visit: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-housing-benefit
- Council Tax Support is a local scheme that could reduce the amount you have to pay on your bill. To be eligible you must be living on a low income, be the person named on the council tax bill and have below a certain level of savings or capital. Visit: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-support
- Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are for people receiving Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit, who need more help with their housing costs. Find out more here: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-discretionary-housing-payment
- Welcome Cafes and Food Clubs provide meals and fresh food either free or at a reduced price, helping to reduce food waste and promoting healthy eating. Details of Weston Welcome Café and Food Club, Radstock Foodies Club can be found on the Live Well website: https://livewell.bathnes.gov.uk/supporting-adults-live-independent-lives/health-and-wellbeing/food-0 .
- The BANES Food Finder lists groups that provide affordable food or emergency food parcels. To find out more, visit https://www.banesfoodfinder.org.uk/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Community Wellbeing Hub is a collaboration between the council, HCRG Care Group and local third sector organisations. It offers support services including help accessing food and transport and money advice and benefit support. Call 0300 247 0050 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or visit the website: https://communitywellbeinghub.co.uk/
- Citizens Advice Bath & North East Somerset is an independent charity that offers free, confidential, expert advice on benefits, debt, family, housing and more. They have offices in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton, or you can call free on 0808 278 7897. https://www.citizensadvicebanes.org.uk/
You can find more information about Welfare Support and other benefits you may be able to apply for on the council website: https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/search?keys=welfare+support,or you can email email@example.com or call 01225 477277. Monday to Thursday 9am to 4.30pm and Friday 9am to 4pm.
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