South Tyneside Council is to offer more support to people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
Following an allocation of £1.485 million from central government, the Council now intends to target the money not only to key groups such as those on low-incomes, but also to those in work but just above the benefits line who are struggling and have benefitted less from national cost of living support schemes.
Food vouchers for children eligible for free school meals will again be given at Christmas and February half term.
Since the Covid pandemic significantly increased contributions have been made to the five major food banks. A total of £118,000 will be used from the Household Support Fund to support these donations for 2023-2024.
The Borough Council was told that the Council is exploring with Inspire South Tyneside the potential to establish a support fund where organisations can donate to support Warm Spaces – a vital resource which already attracted more than 200 residents at the start of November but which is expected to rise significantly as temperatures tumble.
Since the cost-of-living summit six weeks ago the Council has worked closely with partners to ensure joined-up support in key places such as Warm Spaces, vaccine hubs and the Melissa bus as well as sharing more information between key partners (such as the NHS, food banks and support agencies) to help target support and launching a dedicated cost of living web page and communications to let residents know of the support available.
Councillor Ruth Berkley, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, said: “We are living through difficult times and we know that these challenges will only increase as the weather deteriorates, the economy slows and demand rises.
“We are doing all that we can as a council to tackle the cost of living crisis but this is not something that we or our partners can do alone. That is why we have written to the energy companies to ask them to better support vulnerable customers and why we are calling on government to do more to support those at the sharp end of this crisis.”