Thousands of Devon residents who are struggling with the cost of living can get extra support again this winter.
Earlier this year, Devon County Council secured £10m from the fourth round of the Government’s Household Support Fund to cover the period from April 2023 until March 2024.
The money comes with conditions on how it can be allocated and is to support households in most need – those that are struggling to pay for food, energy, water bills and other related essentials. It is also intended for those that may not be eligible for other government support.
So far under this fourth round of the scheme, over £5 million has been deployed to support more than 38,000 households across Devon.
And now with winter approaching, Devon County Council is working with Team Devon (district and city councils) and other community organisations to provide the most vulnerable residents with rapid short-term financial support to help them over the coming months.
The homeless, low income families, those who are suffering from ill health and ethnic minorities are just some of the many groups who will benefit from schemes including free school meal holiday vouchers, hardship payments, pre-payment and credit energy meter support, community grants and funding for minor energy efficiency measures.
For this coming winter, Devon’s district and city councils have over £2 million to offer ‘one-off’ financial help to those who are struggling to pay for their food and utility costs or other household essentials. Help may also be available for unexpected or exceptional circumstances, for example, rent arrears prior to being in receipt of appropriate housing benefits.
The Devon Community Foundation will also be providing grants to voluntary sector organisations supporting communities that don’t always get the help they need. Their ‘Food, Fuel and More’ grant scheme was very well received earlier this year and will re-open this winter with a further funding pot of over £260,000.
The scheme will offer large grants of up to £25,000 to organisations that support homeless people or people in temporary or insecure housing. Groups supporting households with disabled residents or those suffering ill-health which has a direct impact on household income and an ability to meet food and energy bills, are also encouraged to apply, along with organisations that support Asian, black, traveller, Gypsy, Roma and ethnic minority communities who are not accessing support through other channels. They will also be operating a small grants scheme of up to £2,000 for smaller community initiatives.
Councillor Paul Hayward, East Devon District Council's portfolio holder for Finance and Assets, said:
“Every district councillor recognises the financial hardships facing many of our residents across East Devon this winter so I am happy that we are able to offer a package of practical and financial support to those in the most need, from Axmouth to Exmouth, in conjunction with our colleagues at Team Devon and Devon County Council. Full details of how to apply are available on our financial support and advice webpages - please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need signposting to reach the best help and support services available to you”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality, said:
“For many people in Devon, a small change in their personal circumstances, or an unexpected cost out of the blue, can put them in real difficulty, and we know that there are people in our communities who will struggle to cope with paying for heating and for food again this winter.
“This money will help support those most in need, and by working with our colleagues across Devon’s district and city councils and the community and charity sector, and sharing knowledge and expertise about the communities they work in, we can make sure it reaches the right people.
“We are particularly keen to ensure that residents who don’t receive other government support and might not know where to find help know about this support so that they don’t slip through the net.
“If you’re struggling financially, for whatever reason, please take some time to look at our website and check what support you may be eligible for, and refer back to it if your circumstances change over the coming months.”
The Household Support Fund is just one part of the support that councils are making available to households. For more information about the range of support available, visit our financial support and advice webpages.