Home Community and neighbourhoods £6.8m support package to support Knowsley residents over two years

£6.8m support package to support Knowsley residents over two years

by Guy Murphy

Residents in Knowsley are benefitting from a £6.724m support package, helping vulnerable residents across the Borough. The funding covers the period from March 2021 through to March 2023.

The support is funded through the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund (£3m) and the Government’s Household Support Fund (£3.724). The Hardship Fund was initially launched in March 2021 as a £2.5m support package, which has been further increased by £0.5m in March 2022. There has been two Household Support Fund allocations – £1.862m to cover September 2021 to March 2022 and a further £1.862m to cover April to September 2022.

The Government has issued guidance to local authorities regarding the potential to use the Household Support Fund to support residents that receive a state pension who also receive Pension Credit. Within Knowsley approximately 6,000 residents meet this criteria.

Support would equate to £103 of support per pensioner from the Household Support Fund, but Knowsley Council will “top up” this amount through the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund and allocate £200 to each pensioner to support them with household essentials and bills.

The Council is currently developing this scheme and will provide further details to eligible residents around how they will receive their £200 payment once confirmed.

The Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund was created in March 2021 to support vulnerable residents with essentials such as food, heating, debt and benefit advice, housing and job support. Allocations have been made via referrals from partner agencies who are working in local communities and are best placed to identify and support residents in need.

The original Household Support Fund was announced in September 2021 by the Government to support vulnerable households to meet daily costs such as food, clothing and utilities over the winter in 2021. It was specified that 50% of the funding must support households with children.  The second round of Household Support Fund announced in March 2022 specifies that a third of the funding must support pensioner aged residents.

As well as the support to residents of pensionable age, the support plans for 2022/2023 include the continuation of funding for free school meals, holiday activities during school holidays, fuel grants, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Winter Warmth programme, debt and welfare advice and support for community food and essentials through Knowsley Foodbank and community partner organisations. The Foodbank will receive £0.215m of funding in order to continue the essential support it is providing to over 6,000 households.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said “We have listened to our communities and the £6.8m package of support aims to address the issues affecting them.

“We know it’s been a struggle, particularly over the last few years with the pandemic and now with cost of living rises, and our residents need our support more than ever.

“Our support is wide-ranging and will support residents with a range of needs from employment, training, debt and welfare advice through to practical funding for fuel, food and other essential items.

“Importantly, for this next round of support, we are targeting our pensionable aged residents and I’m delighted to be able to confirm the £200 payment which will go some way to helping them over the coming months. It offers them the flexibility to use the funding where they will get the most benefit – whether that be to support them with fuel, food or other costs.

“We will continue to support our residents in whatever way we can and these latest funding allocations are in response to the feedback and engagement we have had with our residents.”

Further information about the help and support available to residents can be found on the Council’s website.