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Cost of Living Support Action Plan - Winter 2022/23

Action Number 1

  • Who: Active Lives and Communities Team  / Housing
  • When: To be delivered by March 2023
  • Status: In progress

Support for the delivery of Warm Spaces in Wyre, including:

  • Engagement with key partners for the identification of spaces that can become warm and welcoming places for people unable to afford to heat their homes or those who need to access a range of support.
  • Encouraging our local VCFSE partners to register their warm spaces on the LCC online directory of warm spaces so that they can be promoted to the public: Lancashire County Council - Register a Warm Space
  • Encouraging local warm spaces to comply and meet the spirit of the Our Lancashire Warm Spaces Charter
  • Provision of £25k funding to support Wyre Warm Spaces from Household Support Fund allocations

Action Number 2

  • Who: Active Lives and Communities Team / Communications Team
  • When: From 18 November 2022
  • Status: In progress

Promotion of the Lancashire County Council Warm Spaces small grants scheme to local Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector organisations: Lancshire County Council - Lancashire Warm Spaces Grant Scheme

Action Number 3

  • Who: Care and Repair
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Assisting older/disabled clients with the completion of Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment forms (can be in excess of £1m per year in claims delivered for vulnerable clients).

Action Number 4

  • Who: Housing / Care and Repair
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Support for those in fuel poverty and the delivery of initiatives to support affordable warmth and energy efficiency. Includes funding for the provision of heating systems, boiler repairs and servicing and draught proofing measures (eligibility criteria applied).

Action Number 5

  • Who: Communities Directorate
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Support and funding for Wyre Citizens Advice who provide support on debt, benefits, employment, family matters, education and housing.

Action Number 6

  • Who: Housing
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Homelessness prevention – provision of help and advice for those homeless or about to lose their homes. Support when faced with repossession or eviction. Emergency housing provision. Advice on finding accommodation in the private and social rented sectors, referrals to support or supported accommodation, health services and benefits advice.

Action Number 7

  • Who: Housing /Active Lives and Communities Team /Communications Team
  • When: October 22
  • Status: Completed

Creation of a Cost of Living page on our website

Action Number 8

  • Who: Active Lives and Communities Team
  • When: Christmas,Easter and Summer holidays
  • Status: Ongoing

Provision of a Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) across Wyre. Providing free holiday food and activities for children on free school meals across Wyre.

Action Number 9

  • Who: Active Lives and Communities Team
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Delivery of the Play and Skills at Teatime Activities (PaSTA) programme - after school clubs providing targeted families with budgeting, healthier eating options and physical activity.

Action Number 10

  • Who: Contact Centre Systems and Compliance Teams
  • When: After 1 December 2022
  • Status: Completed

Household Support Fund 2 – £430k funding provided by the Government (Via LCC) and used to provide financial support for Wyre residents, identified via Localised Household Support (LCTS) records as being on the lowest incomes. A payment of £90 has been issued to 3,613 pension-age LCTS claimants and a £50 payment has been issued to 4,783 working-age LCTS claimants. In order to meet the cost of these payments, £180k of Discretionary Energy Rebate funding has also been used.

Household Support Fund 3 – a further award of £430k funding provided by the Government (via LCC). The intention is to award money to residents who haven’t previously received any Household Support Funding.

To date funding has been allocated as below:

£40k to be awarded in two tranches to food banks.

£25k allocated to warm spaces – see action 1.

£20k to be used to support domestic violence charity to meet the cost of their energy.

Residents – we are currently looking at making payments to:

- 340 residents in receipt of Housing Benefit, but not LCTS. These are mainly the residents of homes in multiple occupation (HMO’s), who aren’t liable to pay council tax in their own right, but who have their own gas and electricity pre-payment meters or accounts.  

- 370 residents who receive a council tax discount for being the only adult counted for council tax purposes, as the other adult residents are disregarded due to severely mental impairment or having full-time student status.

- 360 residents whose homes have had their council tax banding reduced by one band due to significant disabled adaptations having been made to the property in order that the disabled member of the household can live there.

- residents who have not yet received a payment from either the Discretionary Energy Rebate Scheme or the first two Household Support Fund allocations, but have a relatively low income. We will be inviting “means tested” applications from these residents early in the New Year at the latest.

Action Number 11

  • Who: Benefits Assessment Team
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Benefits, including LCTS – we continue to offer help, advice and signposting to those of our residents approaching the council regarding entitlement to benefits.

Action Number 12

  • Who: Head of Contact Centre
  • When: To take effect from 1 April 2023
  • Status: Ongoing 

The working-age LCTS scheme – following Cabinet approval, we are now in a consultation period with residents and other council tax preceptors with regards to reducing the minimum council tax contribution from 8.5% to 0%. This will reduce the council tax bills of approximately 5,300 working-age council taxpayers.

Action Number 13

  • Who: Contact Centre Systems and Compliance Teams
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Payments completed. Verification of entitlement still ongoing

Council Tax Energy Rebate Statutory Scheme – 42,589 Wyre residents received their £150 rebate payment prior to the original Government set deadline of 30 September 2022. Immediately prior to that deadline, the council tax accounts of 2,437 residents who had still failed to contact the council regarding their rebate were credited with £150. The Compliance Team are now in the process of verifying the entitlement of these council tax payers to claim the rebate.

Action Number 14

  • Who: Contact Centre Systems Team
  • When: -
  • Status: Payments completed

Council tax Discretionary Energy Rebate Fund (DERS) - Wyre was awarded £260,200 in DERS funding. Of this funding:

£37,050 has been used to award 247 council taxpayers living in properties falling under council tax bands E-H and claiming LCTS with a £150 payment.

A further £180k has been pooled with HSF2 funding to help finance the £90 payments to pension-age LCTS claimants and £50 payments to working-age LCTS claimants.

The remaining £48K balance of the funding has been awarded to around 300 council tax payers who are on low incomes, but are currently exempt from paying council tax by virtue of the fact that they are suffering from severe mental impairment, or are full-time students.

Action Number 15

  • Who: Benefits and Council Tax Assessment Team
  • When: In progress
  • Status: Ongoing

Council tax hardship payments – The council were awarded £1,04m in summer 2022 to pay every working-age LCTS claimant up to £150 (via a credit to their council tax account). Just over £40k of this funding is still available and being used to provide some financial support to help council tax payers experiencing exceptional financial hardship pay their council tax.     

Action Number 16

  • Who: Benefits and Council Tax Assessment Team
  • When: By 31 March 2023
  • Status: Ongoing

Discretionary Housing Payments – to date in 2022/23 £78,616 has been awarded to 121 housing benefit / UC claimants struggling to meet their rent payments for their homes. The remaining funding of £56,598 will be spent by 31/03/2023.

Action Number 17

  • Who: Contact Centre Systems and Compliance Teams
  • When: TBC
  • Status: Ongoing

Alternative Funding Support for Energy Bills – the Government have just asked LA’s to administer this scheme, the purpose of which is to provide some financial support to households whose heating source is provided via bottled gas or heating oil. Further details of this scheme haven’t been announced as yet.