Hardship Support Grant can provide access to emergency short term support to applicants whose immediate essential needs are not being met

Devon County Council has made available £1 million of funding for Devon Local Authorities to help those who are affected by Coronavirus and who may not be able to access funding or support from elsewhere. The aim of the funding is to address the economic vulnerability and financial hardship being felt and to help rebuild the financial resilience of those affected.

The main focus of the fund is to provide direct support to applicants to meet their immediate need for basic essentials, including household essentials such as food, heat, power, nappies, baby milk etc.

East Devon has been allocated £181,487 of this funding, which will be administered by staff working in Revenues and Benefits, in a way that will complement and work alongside other sources of funding and support already available at East Devon, such as the Community Support Hub, assisted collection service, Council Tax Hardship Fund and others. 

The fund can be used for many different things such as access to emergency short term support through shopping vouchers, paying for essential travel needs or essential advice and support services.

It also provides access to information and advice to help increase self-reliance and to maintain financial independence in the longer term, as well as immediate support for the wellbeing of an applicant and their family.

There will be eligibility criteria that an applicant must meet and all applicants will have a telephone interview to discuss needs. Applications for the fund can be made on-line through the Request Financial Support (Coronavirus COVID-19) https://eastdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/benefits-and-council-tax/request-financial-support-coronavirus-covid-19/ 

The following categories have been identified as being eligible, although others may yet emerge: 

  • Self-employed people who are not able to trade, in the interim until their tax-based grants are paid from June 2020.
  • Self Employed people who started business recently and are not eligible for a grant.
  • Employees whose employment has been terminated or those still in work but on short time, and where Universal Credit is not yet in payment.
  • Employees laid off, but not eligible for furlough.
  • Employees who are sick and either not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, or where Statutory Sick Pay represents a significant drop in income.
  • People who are isolated and unable to source supplies and are not served by local voluntary help or by shielding.
  • Older people who are struggling because of increased vulnerability (carers and family cannot visit etc), and again are not served by local voluntary help.
  • People with little or no access to disposable income.

If you or you know someone who you feel may benefit from the fund please ask them to complete an application on-line. To speak to someone about this, please telephone 01395 516551. Alternatively please send details, including your/their phone number and email address to hardship@eastdevon.gov.uk.

Commenting on the hardship fund, Cllr Ian Thomas, East Devon’s portfolio holder for finance, said:

We recognise that the circumstances of some of our customers means that further help may be necessary. This hardship fund will be used in a supportive and reactive way to help people experiencing short-term difficulties. It is a discretionary scheme that offers an immediate and direct short term solution to individuals and families facing the stark prospect of being unable to access the most basic necessities such as food and fuel. The grant can also be used to support our local community and voluntary partners who can receive additional funding, where necessary, for their role in delivering hardship support.

Devon County Council Leader, Councillor John Hart said:

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak is putting a huge financial strain on some people, with work and income changing overnight as a result of the lockdown.

If you’re worried about money and how to pay in the short-term for basic essentials, there is immediate help available through this fund.

By working together with our district council colleagues we can make sure this vital financial support reaches the vulnerable people in our communities who need it most at this difficult and uncertain time.