Welsh Gov creates £51m support fund to help families hardest hit by cost-of-living crisis
Welsh Ministers have announced a new £51m package of support will help families facing the cost-of-living crisis to pay their bills this winter.
The Welsh Government is releasing extra funding from its reserves to target support towards lower income households.
The first phase of the Household Support Fund will target heating and eating – providing families with extra help to pay their energy bills over the winter and giving extra funding to foodbanks and community food schemes.
It comes as the UK Government in Westminster has refused to reverse its £20 cut in Universal Credit for tens of thousands of families and the Bank of England is warning inflation will rise to 5% by the spring, pushing prices even higher.
Rebecca Evans, Minster for Finance and Local Government said: “Families across Wales are facing a real cost-of-living crisis thanks to rising prices and cuts to key benefit payments.
“To help tackle these unprecedented challenges, we are making £51m available to develop our own bespoke Household Support Fund to help with some of the costs families are facing.
“Where Westminster has failed to support families, the Welsh Government will step in and back our communities through this challenging period.”
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, has outlined the first measures, which will be funded.
More than £38m will be made available through a Winter Fuel Support Scheme for households in receipt of working age means-tested benefits.
Eligible households will be able to claim a one-off £100 cash payment. It will be available to all eligible energy customers regardless of whether they pay for their fuel on a pre-payment or a credit meter.
More than £1.1m has also been provided to support and bolster foodbanks, community food partnerships and community hubs. This will help them address food poverty, food insecurity and provide a wider range of services to help people and families maximise their income. It includes the extension of the successful Big Bocs Bwyd project to a further 25 schools.
Hutt said: “We are very worried the cost-of-living crisis, coming so close to Christmas, will force families to turn to high-cost lenders or illegal loan sharks to help make ends meet
“This fund will help raise awareness of the alternatives out there which can help.
“Most of the powers to address this cost-of-living crisis lie in the UK Government’s hands but we want to do everything we can to help families through this winter.
“We will support you, your families, your businesses and your community through these unprecedented times.”
Further announcements about the Household Support Fund will be made in the coming weeks.
‘Lowest take home pay’
Responding to Labour’s announcement of a £51 million winter support package, Welsh Conservative shadow finance minister, Peter Fox MS said: “Labour have been in power for the past 22 years and sadly it’s left Wales with the lowest take home pay in Britain, and the most people living in poverty in the UK.
“At the recent UK budget, Rishi Sunak announced a record extra £2.5 billion per year for the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay, on top of its annual funding of £15.9 billion.
“The Conservative Government is helping families meet the cost of living and supporting vulnerable households by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p, as well as raising the National Living Wage to £9.50, delivering a £1,000 pay rise for workers.
“The record funding settlement delivers on the priorities of the people in Wales and is the backdrop to such announcements by Labour ministers, who now need to deliver policies that improve the lives of Welsh families.”