£7.7m Norfolk Cost of Living Support Scheme Launched
06 May 2022
Norfolk County Council is today unveiling a £7.7m package of hardship support offering increased flexibility and choice in the way a broader range of households can access help.
The council is topping up £6.7m of Government funding from the Household Support Fund with a further £1m to create a new Norfolk Cost of Living Support Scheme which will help people who are struggling to pay for food, energy and water bills, and other essentials.
Cllr Andrew Proctor, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “The main challenge facing us all is the spiralling cost of living which is hitting a wide number of households hard. That’s why we’ve created a new scheme that is flexible and can reach a broader range of people than previous hardship schemes. This includes families in need, older people and other vulnerable households.
“Previously the focus of our support has been on helping those facing hardship as the economy recovers from the pandemic and providing a bridge between the end of furlough and the Universal Credit top-up. Our new Cost of Living Support Scheme builds on what has worked previously but is able to reach a much wider group of residents, in-line with Government guidance.
“Some of the money is directed to the Norfolk Assistance Scheme, which is a robust and proven welfare offering to help households meet their immediate and longer-term needs, as well as channelling funding through our partners in the voluntary sector and other local authorities to expand capacity for wider support needs.”
“We’ve also topped up the funding from government with an extra £1m, so that our fund can reach even more households facing hardship.”
To ensure part of the support the council is offering is sustainable for the longer term, in addition to the £7.7 million Cost of Living Support Scheme, the council is investing a further £225,000 of capital into its partnership with the Norfolk Community Foundation Nourishing Norfolk food hub offer, bringing the total investment over the last year to £500,000.
Claire Cullens, Chief Executive of Norfolk Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to continue our work with Norfolk County Council to support those communities who are struggling and face real economic challenges.
“This funding injection is enabling us to deliver a coordinated programme of help in partnership with our local and vital Norfolk charities. The additional funding support to our Nourishing Norfolk programme will enable us to accelerate the development of affordable food hubs across Norfolk to ensure that no one in Norfolk goes hungry.”
The £7.7 million Norfolk Cost of Living Support Scheme, which will run until October, will be administered as follows:
- £3.6m to support families with seven monthly cost of living vouchers for children eligible for means-tested free school meals. The payments will be £15 per month, per child, with an enhanced payment of £30 for August, to coincide with the school holidays. The total value will be £120 per child, over the course of the scheme. The vouchers will be paid from April (backdated) up to and including October. This approach gives families flexibility and choice by allowing them to budget monthly and offset vouchers against other financial pressures on their household bills and activities. It also means families will have payments during and outside school holidays with the option of saving them to use only in the school holidays if they prefer
- £1m allocated to the council’s Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) to support families in hardship, where there isn’t eligibility for free school meals. This support is available to families with very young children, young carers, and families caring for children with disabilities, many of whom may be facing significantly higher energy bills
- £2.2m, a third of the Government funding, to support those aged 65 or over by providing cash and voucher awards through the voluntary sector and other partners, including a specific collaboration with Anglian Water, as well as support through NAS. The work with Anglian Water will support customers aged 65 or over who are on Anglian Water’s social tariffs, because they are in financial difficulty, providing a package of support to reduce and prevent debt. £700,000 of this funding will be distributed to district, borough and city councils to support vulnerable communities
- £840,000 to support others in need, including funding for district, borough and city councils to meet immediate housing related concerns. This part of the scheme will also mean that voluntary sector agencies can refer those they are working with to the council for support
We would always encourage residents who find themselves in hardship to contact us on 0344 800 8020, so we can offer support either directly or through our partners.