Gwynedd council announces help for those struggling amid cost of living crisis
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
As the cost of living crisis worsens and winter approaches a council has described a raft of measures it has to help residents in Gwynedd.
It comes as vulnerable people and families on low incomes are being increasingly impacted by rising food prices, mortgage hikes and spiralling energy bills.
As some local authorities have put in place innovative initiatives such as ‘warm hubs’ the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Gwynedd Council what help it has available.
The council said it already had in place a number of schemes to help, but that it was also looking to find new ways. Some of the plans were still in their early stages and details would be” announced in due course. ”
A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “Gwynedd Council is committed to supporting people who find themselves in a vulnerable position due to the cost of living crisis, including initiatives to help people keep warm over the winter
“We are currently in discussions with various local partners to explore new and additional ways in which we can work together to support vulnerable individuals and families through the cost of living crisis, and in particular through the winter months.
“As a council, we already have a wide range of proactive initiatives in place to help local people to get through these difficult times.
“These include a network of hubs in communities across Gwynedd, in conjunction with community groups in Bethesda, Pwllheli, Nefyn, Caernarfon, Bala, Botwnnog, Maesgeirchen, Penygroes, Barmouth, Llanaelhaearn, and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
“The centres are aimed at supporting individuals with income, finance and debt problems and those who need access to food.”
Amongst help provided, the council says it has also increased its financial support for the Gwynedd Citizens Advice service.
Run by volunteers, the service can provide information for people who don’t have enough to live on. It can advise on available help from the government, benefits and pensions.
It can also signpost people to help for essentials, things like bills and food, through schemes such as the Household Support Fund and Cost of Living Payments.
The council also said it had in place a “dedicated team” of officers who also support eligible residents to access winter fuel and cost of living payments.
There is also an emergency food fund to support community groups to run food schemes, food banks, supper clubs and to make use of food that would otherwise go to waste
The council said it was also giving “direct financial support” to local food banks and had established a dedicated Fuel Poverty Team providing advice on energy use and help residents access initiatives to make their homes more energy efficient.
Childcare grant support is also available to enable parents to go to work and a Communities For Work service set up to help local people access “good quality” jobs.
The county is also providing free school meals for all reception and Year 1 primary school pupils from September 2022 onwards as part of the Welsh Government’s Universal Primary Free School Meals initiative.
By January 2023 Year 2 will be introduced and in September 2023 This scheme will be rolled out to the rest of Gwynedd Primary school pupils.
Encouraging anyone who is having difficulty to get in touch, the council spokesperson added: “We urge any Gwynedd residents who are struggling to make ends meet to vist www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru to find out more about these initiatives as well as other forms of support or to contact us by telephoning 01766 771000.”
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