Council unveils £5m plans to tackle Cost of Living crisis

Published: Friday, September 30, 2022

Wandsworth Council has set out its plans to help residents through the cost-of-living crisis. Funding totalling more than £5m will be used to support a range of organisations, projects and initiatives all designed to give residents more support during these difficult times, with a strong emphasis on partnership working across all of our communities.

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This will include:

  • £185k to the Wandsworth Citizen’s Advice Bureau
  • £1m being given to The Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund
  • All eligible households getting a one-off Winter Cost of Living Payment of up to £150.

Council Leader Simon Hogg (pictured) said: “The new Council administration is absolutely committed to making sure it does everything possible to help people through this winter and beyond. We are not prepared to let anyone fall through the cracks.

“We have set aside this money to work with our partners and local charities to help provide the best support we can for those people who are struggling as a result of the national cost of living crisis.

“This will include an additional £1m being given to The Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund which will go straight into the pockets of our most vulnerable residents. These plans will also not affect your council tax. We will keep the same low council tax – this is the right thing to do as it is a tax that hits those on low incomes the most.

“We are determined to make a difference and as we are seeing with policies such as free school uniforms for struggling families our council administration is already making an impact.”

The proposed measures will be debated by the Council’s Finance Committee tonight (Thursday, September 29) with a wide range of overarching proposals all designed to help and support Wandsworth residents.

Funding will go towards various projects including £185k to the Wandsworth Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help them employ more advisers so that, in partnership with the council, residents are really put at the centre of the support needed to help them address their issues.

Mary-Ann Foxwell, Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice Wandsworth welcomed the news.

She said: “At Citizens Advice Wandsworth we are seeing more residents than ever coming to us experiencing real hardship because of the cost-of-living crisis, and we know that the situation for many is set to worsen. We’re delighted that Wandsworth Council is supporting us to provide a dedicated cost of living service which will enable us to give additional information, advice and support to local people who are struggling in the face of unprecedented price rises.”

The extra £1m for the Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund will provide additional assistance to the borough’s most vulnerable residents who are experiencing hardship.  This includes crisis payments such as food vouchers and fuel grants to help people in emergency situations, as well as community care grants to support vulnerable households.  In addition, the council will give all eligible households a one-off Winter Cost-of-Living Payment of up to £150.

Further money will be channelled into supporting businesses, health initiatives, housing support, employment, and financial schemes.

The Council has already announced a range of initiatives to help people during the cost-of-living crisis such as a new School Uniform Support Scheme which means families struggling financially will not have to pay for costly school uniforms when they transition to their next school, with more than a thousand children benefiting.

An online Cost-of-Living Hub has also been put together on its website including details on grants to help with fuel bills, advice on reducing bills, information on benefits and what to do in a crisis, help available for families, where to get mental health support and links to community organisations and charities that can help. 

To support this work the Council will be convening a Cost-of-Living Commission to hear from residents about how their lives are being impacted and help shape what further action can be taken to support them.

Councillor Hogg added: “At the core of all these proposals is our commitment to work with others to find the best way to help our residents through this crisis. Our message to people who are struggling is this council will not desert you and we will help you find the support you need. We’ll work with all of our partners to ensure we have a joined-up approach to help people through the coming months and beyond.”

The recommendations of the Finance Committee will be considered and decided by the Executive on Monday, October 10.