A SENIOR city councillor has welcomed the £3.4million of funding that will help ensure that those on the lowest incomes won’t be cold in Leicester this winter.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who leads on the council’s anti-poverty strategy, says the money allocated to the city through the government’s Household Support Fund on Wednesday (6 October) will benefit those who will struggle the most to pay their winter fuel bills.
The funding will support the city’s most vulnerable households by paying for top-up cards for pay-as-you-go meters or used to make payments directly to energy companies.
“There’s been lots of publicity about the huge increase in energy prices this winter, and we know that this will have a significant impact on the most vulnerable families and individuals in our city,” said Cllr Russell.
“People are already in a tough situation, and many families on low incomes are only just about getting by, so bigger fuel bills will push some people into crisis.
“The money we’ve received through the household support fund means we can offer help to those most in need, so they don’t have to make the choice between eating and heating.”
It is estimated that around 26,000 households in Leicester will face fuel poverty this winter.
Details of the scheme are still being finalised but information about how to claim fuel support will be widely publicised in due course.
Most of the £3.4m allocated to the city will assist vulnerable households most in need of help with fuel and food this winter – but the household support fund will also allow the city council to make sure that children on free school meals are supported during the autumn half-term break.
With the funding arriving just days before schools in Leicester finish for half-term, the council had no time to plan a half-term food scheme for the 16,050 children and young people in the city who are eligible for a free school meal.
Instead, families with children who receive free school meals will be given a £15 food voucher for each eligible child
Details of how to claim the food vouchers will be communicated to families by nurseries, schools and colleges.
Cllr Russell said: “With the funding arriving so late in the day, we’ve been unable to organise the half-term food scheme we would have liked to have run.
“The food boxes and recipe cards provided for children on free school meals during the half-term break last May were really appreciated by families, but the logistics of food distribution on that scale require weeks of planning.
“By offering families a £15 food voucher that can be used in a selection of supermarkets, we hope that children who normally have a free school meal won’t miss out on a meal this half-term.
“The good news is that we’re already working on a food and activity programme for the Christmas break and February half-term, which we hope will support all the families on low incomes who are just about managing to cope in these challenging times.”