£360k cost of living support package agreed

A SUPPORT package worth more than £360,000 to help some of Inverclyde’s most vulnerable residents with the cost of living crisis this winter has been approved.

Members of the council’s policy and resources committee unanimously agreed at a meeting on Wednesday 16 November 2022 to spend the money on a raft of one-off anti-poverty initiatives to help struggling households cope with soaring costs.

The package includes £100k for the local authority’s Inverclyde’s Warm Hand of Friendship scheme to provide residents with access to ‘warm spaces’, food and warm items of clothing during the winter months, and £100k to help mitigate food insecurity.

The council will also spend £83k to double the Scottish Government’s Christmas child payment from £130 to £260 for around 640 eligible young people who benefit from the local authority’s enhanced free school meals offer that is not covered by government funding.

An extra £50k will also be provided to the Scottish Welfare Fund for community care and crisis grants and a further £30k has been identified to provide additional fuel poverty payments to help older people pay for heating.

There are currently 225 people on a waiting list for a fuel poverty grant with more applications expected in the coming weeks and months.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council and convener of policy and resources, said: “Winter has barely begun yet so many families out there are struggling to heat their homes, put food on the table and pay bills as a direct result of the cost of living crisis we are in.

“Councils themselves are struggling due to years of underfunding and with rising costs but it’s important than when finite resources do become available that we use the money wisely and that is what’s happening in this instance.

“I know how difficult it is already for so many people and that the situation will only get worse but hopefully these one-off anti-poverty interventions will help children and young people, families and our older population with some of the financial challenges they are facing and see them through this winter.”

Additional funding for all the initiatives has become available due to underspends on other projects.

It is the latest series of anti-poverty interventions by the council this year alone to support households, businesses and third sector organisations, including a one-off £350 grant to some 10,000 low income families to help with the cost of living crisis back in March.

The details of the latest anti-poverty measures are contained within agenda item 11 at www.inverclyde.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2504 and the policy and resources committee meeting is available to watch on the council’s YouTube channel at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEE7CgQ7n2c.