Council announces £5m support package to help residents through cost of living crisis this winter
Hackney Council is here to help residents least able to manage soaring energy bills and everyday costs with a £5m million winter support package, including new investment:
- More money to directly help very vulnerable residents
- More targeted money for residents we know are in need (such as food vouchers for families on free school meals)
- More help to residents from a new team to access money and government benefits to which they’re entitled
- More grants to help community groups directly support even more residents in need
- More support to community groups to work together, drive fundraising and increase volunteers
- More practical help including ‘warm hubs’ in libraries.
That was the message from the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, last night, following a cost of living crisis summit, hosted by the Council and attended by a panel of Cabinet Members and leaders of community organisations, to unveil and explain how the Council, and its partners, are providing immediate and long-term help and support for residents.
Hackney Council is here to help residents struggling to manage in this time of crisis.
We have unlocked or distributed millions of pounds of support in the last few months, and have further boosted that help this winter when families need it most. We are also using every spare bit of resource we have to find, reach and support our most vulnerable, including a new team who are actively contacting vulnerable residents. We will ensure all services at the Council do their bit to add to this support, from Markets to Libraries, Education and Jobs teams - we are on your side.
We are providing even more support and funding for community partners to use their resources to help; and taking action to prevent those who may fall into homeless to stay in or find stable housing.
However, we can’t get people, including our own staff, through this crisis alone. We all need to step up support, whether that’s other public services, local charities and community organisations. This crisis has been made worse by this Government, and they should be doing much more to help, including reversing the cuts made to Universal Credit and providing more money to help people pay their soaring energy and food bills.
Many of our residents have been in a cost of living crisis for the last decade, driven by high rents and low wages. The Council is committed to progressing our longer term work to tackle what is driving poverty in Hackney. We have a new long-term plan, which will be published later this month, that sets out priorities for housing, employment and for young families to help tackle the root causes of poverty.
Here’s how residents can access help and further details of what the Council is doing:
More money to help vulnerable residents
The Council has £800k of immediate money available to support those in severe hardship and who have no other source of money. The Council can help if you’re facing:
- An unexpected emergency situation where you need a small amount of money to help you over the next few days
- Ongoing financial issues such as rent or if you’re struggling to manage debts
- Or if you need essential household items like beds, fridges or cooking equipment
The Council can also check you're receiving all of the benefits that you're entitled to, and help you claim where you might be missing out, through its new Money Hub co-funded by the local NHS.
If you would like a conversation with a support officer, you should complete this form. An officer will aim to call you back within a week, though as this is a new service demand is very high. Funding is limited and we have to target those who need it most and those at risk of homelessness. However, in most cases we can provide advice, support and help in other ways.
If you are unable to fill out the form online, you can visit a library or the Hackney Service Centre, in Reading Lane, Hackney Central, for support filling it out - and where we have made more access points available - or you can call 020 8356 3111.
There is more information on what help is available for you here, including a comprehensive guide - 10,000 copies of which have been distributed across the borough - where you can access practical help, including food, as well as mental health and employment and skills advice.
A further £300k will be invested into this fund and this work this winter, and to support people who can’t access public funding due to their migration status and to help vulnerable people with their fuel bills.
Next year, the Council is proposing to protect all working age claimants eligible for Hackney's Council Tax reduction scheme (those who can claim up to 85% off their Council Tax bills) from any potential increase in Council Tax through a one-off payment of £25. And it will double the money available in its associated hardship scheme to at least £225k
Targeted grants for residents we know are in need
The Council is distributing more than £2.4m this winter to struggling families via children’s centres, schools and colleges; to people in hostels, supported living and temporary accommodation; to children leaving care and foster carers; and via partners to enable residents to access food and fuel help.
The Council has invested in staff who will actively identify those in need and help those in severe hardship, and these teams will also be out and about in the community - at events hosted by the voluntary sector and in food banks, community halls, GP surgeries and schools to reach as many people as possible
And the Council is creating a task group to support schools to feed children - listening to schools and community organisations about their ideas; looking at models that reduce cost and improve quality of food provided; and how we might expand universal free schools meals to older years groups - with an initial £300k cash injection to kickstart this work.
More grants, and coordination, of community groups to help and reach even more residents in need.
The Council knows it can’t reach all residents, that’s why it’s also investing and distributing more funding into voluntary, community and partner groups, while also bringing together organisations to bolster their reach and resources.
The Council is:
- Topping up existing grants by £40k to community groups to enable them to work more closely with the Council to provide support to residents.
- Increasing grants by £250k to £1m to groups which provide specialist advice for residents (such as debt, benefits and housing and immigration issues).
- Distributing £95k to help food networks bulk-buy food over the winter and increase the supply of volunteers.
- Creating a dedicated team to bring organisations together, unlock resources, avoid duplicated efforts and maximise impact.
The Council has also designated libraries as ‘warm hubs’ and is supporting more organisations to develop their own warm hubs and get onto the national warm hubs map; and the Council recently launched the £300k Community Energy Fund so local organisations can do their bit to install new clean energy across the borough and begin to tackle longer-term energy supply issues.
If you are worried about debt but would prefer not to speak to the Council, you can contact the Money Helper service, which can connect you to local, confidential support.