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Supporting our community during cost of living crisis

Supporting our community during cost of living crisis

We will do all we can to support our community now and in the future.

The cost of living crisis is impacting communities around the country, Elmbridge included.

Below we have outlined the range of support we are providing to our residents during these tough times, but rest assured we will continue to do all we can to help our residents and to enable our partners to help the most vulnerable in our community.

As a community leader it is our responsibly not only to support our most residents and businesses, but to act on their behalf at a national level, while also bringing community groups together to enable a coordinated and comprehensive support and advice package.

We take these responsibilities to heart and will do all we can to support our community now and in the future.

Cllr Chris Sadler                                            Cllr Bruce McDonald

Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council             Deputy Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council                                  


£150 energy rebate mandatory scheme

  • By the end of July, we had paid 96% (approximately £3.4 million) of eligible taxpayers, two months ahead of the Government deadline.
  • We paid those who pay their council tax by direct debit straightaway, covering 73% of those eligible.
  • For those who do not pay their council tax by direct debit, the Government required an application process with detailed pre-payment checks.  To speed up this process, we implemented an electronic application form that checks banks details and eligibility in real time. This enabled us to make payment to over 10% of those eligible.
  • Those taxpayers who did not apply were credited the £150 to their council tax account to reduce their indebtedness where appropriate.

£150 energy rebate discretionary scheme

  • We have paid eligible households two months ahead of the Government deadline.
  • Everyone in bands E-H in receipt of benefits received the £150, in addition everyone on benefits in all bands received an additional £46.75. Meaning these households received nearly £200 for the energy rebate scheme, if they were in receipt of benefits. Most of the £400,000 allocation has been used.

The household support fund allocated by Government via Surrey County Council

  • For the benefit of our most vulnerable residents, we avoided an application process and focused on those with most need by paying out to those on benefits who were also paid £150 from the energy rebate scheme.
  • For those on benefits, pensioners received an additional £74 and non-pensioners £21 from the household support fund on top of the energy rebate funding.
  • We have allocated some (£5,000) of this funding to local charities to increase the focus on those with most need.
  • In total we will have allocated nearly £250,000, of Household Support Funding.
  • Pensioners on benefits will have in total received nearly £275 from the Energy Rebate combined with the Household Support Fund.

Working with Citizens’ Advice

We are working closely with the local Citizens Advice to offer payment plans for those struggling with council tax and other charges.

Benefits claims processing

  • While not a direct form of additional financial support, we know that prompt processing and payment matters.
  • With that in mind, we have implemented an online account service for benefit customers so they can track their claim and have visibility of when valid claims will be paid. Customers upload required documentation which ensures claim accuracy.
  • We notify customers by email or text when they have an update on their claim. This real time communication has enabled us to process claims quickly and efficiently.

Supporting our communities

  • Our borough wide Centres for Community are a lifeline for many residents offering warm meals, company and wellbeing support. We are exploring extending that support to include for example advice sessions from Citizens’ Advice for the wider community.
  • We will be working with Surrey County Council around the ‘warm hub’ concept of providing community facilities to those struggling to heat their homes and exploring how we can support our residents throughout the colder months.
  • We have been working with the voluntary sector to help them establish a clothes bank in Elmbridge. Many of the voluntary sector organisations feel there is a need for a local clothes bank but are struggling to provide one. Discussions are currently taking place as to how this can be facilitated locally.
  • We have enabled community organisations to support our residents on benefits. Organisations such as, Walsingham Care who are offering £1K of funding to cover the cost of draught excluders that will be installed by our Elmbridge Handy Man service.

A support hub of information

  • We have developed a Cost of Living support hub on our website, providing residents with a range of up-to-date information on where they can find support and guidance if they are struggling to pay bills, heat their home or if they mental health and wellbeing is being impacted by living costs.
  • Aware that not all residents have access to the internet, we are producing an important information guide to be printed and distributed to our to Community Support Services clients and relevant voluntary and community groups. Information will include advice on keeping warm this winter, as well as ensuring residents are receiving the financial support to which they are entitled.
  • We have been keeping the business network and business groups updated with the latest from Government and will continue to signpost and connect businesses to any appropriate support or funding opportunities.

Health and wellbeing

  • Our teams in Community Support Services and Culture and Leisure & Environment are working together to develop free physical activity sessions including tennis sessions, aimed at those on low income with health needs.
  • At the Xcel Leisure Centre and Hurst Pool concessionary fees are also available.

A community leader and convener  

In the next few weeks we will convene a round table with a range of stakeholders and community organisations to further understand and recognise the impact of the cost of living crisis on our residents and how we can work together to provide a comprehensive package of support, while assessing if there is more that needs to be done.

It is felt that as a group we can be a stronger voice and can advocate for our residents at a national level. The cost of living crisis will be a defining issue and challenge for at least the next 18 months and as a collective we will need to drive the response and work together to maximum effort.

 

 

 

 

 

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