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Comprehensive support package for residents facing Winter challenges

Household Support Fund available for those who need extra support

Posted by: Communications team on 19 December 2023 11:26
2023-Household Support Fund extended Feb 23

As living costs soar and the winter sets in, West Berkshire Council are introducing a robust support package to assist the local community until spring 2024.

Collaborating with local voluntary sector partners, including Greenham Trust, we have been allocated over £1.3 million from national Government and we have allocated funds to address various needs. Key measures include:

  • £30,000 for food and energy support: channelled through local charities to alleviate food and energy expenses.
  • £19,580 for appliances and furniture: providing essential items for residents in need.
  • £10,000 emergency accommodation support: ensuring access is available to hot meals for those in emergency accommodation.
  • £30,000 for carpets and curtains: supporting those moving into accommodation without these essentials.
  • £80,000 for struggling pensioners:boosting assistance for pensioners towards hot meals, energy costs, and essential repairs.

These measures complement existing initiatives, including a £70,000 match-funded pot accessible via Greenham Trust to support local charitable providers (apply here), vouchers for Free School Meals recipients during the Christmas school holiday, and a £150 cost of living support payment for 695 eligible residents who are entitled to housing benefit, these are mainly pensioners.

Finally, £30,000 has been allocated to provide direct support for the estimated 200 young carers as well as those leaving care.

Councillor Lee Dillon, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:

"In response to the concerns raised by our residents, officers, and voluntary sector partners, we have undertaken a careful review of the challenges our communities are facing and the impact on both residents and the expert organisations assisting them. Food inflation has been very high and although energy costs have fallen recently, they are still high in historical terms and set to rise again in January.

"The measures announced today show a significant shift in our approach to using the Household Support Fund, aiming to provide quicker access to direct support when it is most required. We are particularly proud to announce support for those young carers who do so much in our community as well as support to those leaving care.

"We understand the difficulties individuals may be facing and strongly urge residents to not struggle in silence but to come forward for help if they need it. The Council, along with many other supporting organisations, are here and ready to offer aid and support where we can."  

Garry Poulson, Director of the Volunteer Centre and Chair of the Poverty and Cost of Living Group, said:

"The teamwork has been great. There is much to do, and West Berkshire has a great group of grafters trying to make these awful times a little easier for people."

Rob Daniels, Head of Grants at Greenham Trust, said:

"Cost of living pressures are affecting many more families in our area this winter, driving more people into poverty.

"Frontline charities are experiencing a significant increase in demand for their vital services, and as funders, it is crucial that we can be flexible to meet their needs.

"Adding additional funds and changing the criteria of the joint West Berkshire Council and Greenham Trust Cost of Living Fund to support increased demand, rather than just 'new projects', will make a significant difference to these charities and organisations, allowing them to focus on supporting our communities in need."

The Council continues to provide direct support through the Household Support Fund, and additional community spaces and advice resources can be found on the Cost of Living page. West Berkshire Council and local charities remain dedicated to helping residents navigate these challenging times.


Last modified: 19 December 2023 11:33

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