In September 2022, Knowsley Council stepped up its response as the cost of living crisis escalated.
A £9m support package has been ploughed into providing support and services tailored to the needs of Knowsley communities, ensuring that they can get the right support at the right time. This consists of £3.415m from the council’s own Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, along with £5.586m from the Government’s Household Support Fund.
Support has been provided in recent weeks and months through:
- Free school meals for 8,500 pupils throughout the school holidays (equating to £15 per week for eligible pupils).
- Holiday Activity and Food Clubs during the school holidays. Over 5,000 children and young people have accessed free activities over the Easter and Summer school holidays in 2022 as well as during half-term breaks.
- More than 5,000 fuel vouchers issued – 3,649 vouchers totalling £115,000 have been issued through a range of community agencies since April 2022, with a further 1,355 issued through the Council’s Emergency Support Scheme (an 83% increase on the year before).
- 228 households have been supported with £300 payments made directly into their energy and water bills since April 2022.
- 75 households have benefitted from a boiler repair or replacement scheme over the last three months.
- Funding has been allocated to the Knowsley Foodbank which is helping to support over 3,000 residents each month to receive food and household essentials.
- Funding has been allocated to 13 community groups and partner agencies Knowsley, providing essential supplies to residents and supporting over 500 families each month with food and 220 families each month with household essentials (including warm clothes, blankets, soap, and detergent).
- More than 450 Citizens Advice sessions have been funded since April 2022, providing essential advice and support on issues such as energy bills and debt management – averaging around 50 sessions per month.
- Residents and families are being supported through the Council’s Adult Social Care and Children’s Services teams who are identifying and responding to those families’ needs during contact and visits.
- Funding has been allocated to the Borough’s schools who have identified pupils and families in need and supported them by providing school uniforms, winter coats, and shoes.
- Housing associations in Knowsley have received funding allocations totalling £260,000 – this has resulted in 1,417 households being supported with food vouchers, food parcels, or fuel vouchers, 504 residents supported with welfare, money and bills advice, 483 residents support by Livv Housing Group’s “Food in the Community” project, and 103 households supported through the Stockbridge Village Food Club.
- More than 10,000 payments of £50 each have been allocated to working aged people on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to help those struggling to pay their Council Tax.
- 5,000 payments of £200 each have been made to pensioners receiving Pension Credit to help them to tailor the funding to their needs whether they need help with energy bills, food or other essentials.
- 350 Foster Carers have been given cost of living payments in excess of £150 each to reflect the increased costs which they have experienced.
- From 2 November 2022, Knowsley’s Libraries service opening hours were extended to provide Warm Hubs across the five libraries, six days a week. The libraries are now open from 10am until 5pm Monday to Friday and from 10am until 1pm on Saturdays. In just two months (November and December 2022), 1,000 more people have accessed the borough’s libraries than would otherwise have been the case.
- £48,000 has been allocated to 12 community groups to help them also to extend their opening hours to provide Warm Hubs in a number of locations across the borough.
In addition, the Council has ensured that help and support has been easily available in one place – here on Knowsley News – as well as having a dedicated Cost of Living Helpline number – 0151 443 3300 – for residents to call if they need help and support.
Councillor Graham Morgan, the Leader of Knowsley Council, said “We know for our experience of the pandemic that everyone in Knowsley pulls together when times are tough. The cost of living crisis has been another example of the great partnership working and community resilience which we have in Knowsley.
“We have listened to what our residents need to help them through the cost of living crisis and ensured that we provided support and services in line with those needs.
“The support provided has been extensive and covers not only access to essentials such as food and heating, but also ensuring that children have access to activities and that residents who need mental health and debt management support, get the support they need. Everyone’s needs are different and our extensive package of support reflects the wide range of what local people actually need.
“We will continue to do all that we can to make sure that our residents have the right support at the right time and will continue to support them through these challenging times.
“It’s important that residents know they are not alone and that help and support is available to everybody in Knowsley.”