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Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund launches next week

by Jonathan Kearney

Details regarding the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund were approved at Cabinet tonight.

The £2.5m fund aims to support residents who need it most by ensuring that they get the right support at the right time over the next 12 months. This includes access to food, heating, housing, employment and debt and benefit advice.

How is the funding being used?

  • Food and essentials will be distributed through the Borough’s community and voluntary organisations.
  • Funding has been allocated to support Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Winter Warmth and Safe Heating schemes, enabling a further 400 oil filled radiators to replace unsafe heating sources and provide effective single-room heating for vulnerable residents. As part of this scheme, around 1,200 older people and homeless people will receive a ‘warm and well pack’ on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and referred cases will also receive a ‘safe and well’ visit from a dedicated Prevention Team who will review or fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • The Council’s Strategic Housing Service will also provide emergency boiler and central heating repairs for eligible residents (including those on benefits and low income).
  • Residents who are moving from temporary accommodation into permanent accommodation will be offered a fuel voucher to support them through the winter period.
  • The Council’s fuel bank offer to residents will be maintained which contributes £49 in the Winter and £30 in the Summer towards residents’ heating costs.
  • Children’s Services will also be able to support vulnerable families and improve home conditions and provide support around utility or personal needs, helping them to maintain tenancies.
  • Personal financial advice will be available through the community and voluntary sector. An additional Money Advisor role will be created within the Council offering specialist support to residents who apply to the Council for financial assistance. Specialist financial support for residents with mental health needs will also be provided.
  • Funding will also be allocated to support Council Tax debt targeted families around debt management.
  • The Council’s Emergency Support Scheme will also continue to offer residents short-term assistance in relation to food, fuel and furniture.
  • Fuel vouchers, the provision of warmth packs (which will include duvets, blankets and clothing), hygiene packs, Christmas food parcels and clothes vouchers will also be available.
  • People who are privately renting and have fallen behind with their rent will also be able to access support, ensuring they do not risk becoming homeless.
  • Support will also be provided to residents in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit through the Discretional Housing Payment Scheme.
  • Residents who have been long-term unemployed but supported into employment will receive support through the Knowsley Works team with the offer of a ‘bridging payment’ until they receive their first wage.

How can the fund be accessed?

Residents will be referred to the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund through partner agencies as well as the Council’s own Benefits service. Organisations across the Borough are currently working with vulnerable families, so know where and what support is needed within our communities.

How long with this support package be available for?

The £2.5m funding package is available for 12 months from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2022.