Councillors agree £12.3m plans to support struggling residents in Dacorum and Herts
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A £12.3m package of support for families struggling through the cost of living crisis has been approved by county councillors in Hertfordshire.
The funding has been allocated to the county council through the government’s Household Support Fund.
And on Monday (April 17) councillors agreed plans designed to support those in most need.
As a result, holiday supermarket food vouchers will now continue to be made available to families with children eligible for benefit-related free school meals until March 2024.
There will be support earmarked for unpaid carers on low incomes and low income homes in crisis, as well those who are homeless, pensioners or those who have learning difficulties or disabilities.
And there will be funds allocated to organisations such as food banks, the Citizens Advice, the Money Advice Unit and HertsHelp.
Presenting the proposals, executive member for children, young people and families Cllr Fiona Thomson said the plans would provide support for households in most need – particularly those, she said, who had not been eligible for other government support.
And as the cost of living crisis continues, leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts said it would help to “cushion the blow for those who are most vulnerable in our communities”.
In addition to the allocation from the government, the county council and health chiefs have allocated a further £1.923million for further cost of living support measures in the county.
This funding has already been earmarked for measures that include support for the Hertfordshire Warm Spaces programme, HertsHelp, Citizen’s Advice and the Money Advice Unit.
And at the meeting Cllr Roberts said he was heartened by the way the county council, district and borough councils, the voluntary sector and NHS partners were working together to support the most vulnerable in Hertfordshire.
He highlighted the plans to increase the capacity of the Money Advice Unit and the food and energy support that would be offered through district and borough councils.
And he picked out the ‘small act of kindness’ project, which involves the distribution of a ‘staying warm bag’ – including advice leaflets ad signposting – to thousands of older and homeless people.
The £12.3m spending proposals had earlier been backed by a joint meeting of the county council;s adult care, health and wellbeing cabinet panel and the children, young people and families cabinet panel.
Cllr Thomson said councillors had welcomed the funding, but there had been concerns about what would happen in a years time – with no guarantee that there would be further funding.
And she highlighted views that communications would be important, to ensure the money was getting to those people who really needed it and who may not have benefited previously.
As part of the plans, a significant portion of the HSF allocation from the government – £5.6m – will be used to offer holiday supermarket food vouchers to families with children eligible for benefit-related free school meals.
That will provide £165 vouchers per eligible household – payable in instalments at Easter, Summer, Christmas and half-term holidays until February 2024.
- More information about the help and support available can be obtained by contacting HertsHelp (open seven days a week) on 0300 123 4044 or online at Herts Help.