Buckinghamshire Council announces fresh financial support package for residents in need
Buckinghamshire Council has finalised a new package of support for residents facing financial hardship and who are struggling with rising bills and costs.
The Council has already announced additional measures it’s put in place on top of the government’s national council tax rebate scheme. As well as that help, today Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet has finalised how it will allocate a further £2.4 million of funding from the Government’s Household Support Fund, to help residents struggling to pay bills and buy food.
Residents facing severe financial hardship can contact the council’s Helping Hand service which can:
- help with energy, cooking, lighting and water bills
- support with food costs through vouchers
- pay for household essentials such as sanitary products, boiler servicing, warm clothing costs
£880,000 of the funding has been allocated to provide food vouchers to families in need, including covering children’s meals during school holidays if they are eligible for free school meals during term time. These digital food vouchers will also be available for Afghan and Ukrainian families who’ve arrived in Buckinghamshire as a package of wider support for these families under Helping Hand.
The Household Support Fund package is designed - through Helping Hand - to help families with children, pensioners and other vulnerable households who are struggling with paying for the basics of food, clothing and heating.
This new wave of Helping Hand funding comes on top of extra support the council is giving to residents who may not be in crisis but who are still struggling with the sharp increase in household bills.
- The £150 council tax rebate is now being paid to eligible households (council tax bands A-D) across Buckinghamshire as part of the national scheme to offset the cost of energy bills – the Buckinghamshire scheme has been designed so the funds can be issued as quickly as possible and this is now happening sooner than in some other council areas
- On top of the national council tax scheme, the council has introduced its own scheme and is making £150 payments to eligible residents who live in Bands E-H who are in receipt of certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance
- Under a further strand of Buckinghamshire Council help, the council is also topping up payments under both schemes through the Helping Hand programme, meaning some residents will also be eligible for an extra £25 payment on top of the other payments.
The council is also providing extra support for families during the school holidays through its HAF (holiday activities and food) scheme, ensuring families have access to quality food and care outside of term-time.
Buckinghamshire Council Leader Martin Tett said:
“We are facing significant rises in the cost of living and this is impacting everyone. For some people, it means a real struggle to buy food, clothing or other essentials. As a council, we want to do as much as we can to help those most in need, alongside offering extra support more universally too. So I hope today’s agreed package of measures alongside our other schemes do just that, and ultimately help as many Buckinghamshire residents as we can.
We are working closely with a number of local organisations to ensure support is there for all who need it, from general financial advice, to those who sadly have been pushed into severe hardship. We know people need different levels of help at the moment, that we’re all feeling the pinch and our aim is to help as many Buckinghamshire households as possible who are experiencing varying amounts of financial pressure.”
Steve Bowles, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said:
“Our aim with the Household Support Fund is to target those who need it most and I urge anyone facing severe hardship to get in touch with our Helping Hand team. We are there to help if you are struggling to afford food, fuel and other essential household costs, so get in touch today if you need to access this vital support.”