Thousands of Devon residents who are struggling with the cost of living will receive extra support this winter. Devon County Council has secured £10 million from the fourth round of the Government’s Household Support Fund to assist households in need. The funds will cover the period from April 2023 until March 2024 and will help with expenses such as food, energy, water bills, and other essentials. The support is intended for those who may not be eligible for other government assistance. So far, over £5 million has been distributed to more than 38,000 households across Devon under this fourth round of the scheme.
With winter approaching, Devon County Council is collaborating with Team Devon, district and city councils, and other community organizations to provide rapid short-term financial aid to the most vulnerable residents. This assistance will benefit groups such as the homeless, low-income families, individuals with ill health, and ethnic minorities. Schemes including free school meal holiday vouchers, hardship payments, pre-payment and credit energy meter support, community grants, and funding for minor energy efficiency measures will be implemented.
Devon’s district and city councils have over £2 million available for “one-off” financial help during the coming winter. This aid will assist those struggling to pay for food, utility costs, and other household essentials. Assistance may also be provided for unexpected or exceptional circumstances, such as rent arrears prior to receiving appropriate housing benefits.
The Devon Community Foundation will also offer grants to voluntary sector organizations that support communities lacking sufficient help. Their ‘Food, Fuel and More’ grant scheme, which was well-received earlier this year, will reopen this winter with over £260,000 in funding. Large grants of up to £25,000 will be available to organizations supporting homeless individuals or those in temporary or insecure housing. Groups assisting households with disabled residents or individuals suffering from ill health that affects their income and ability to meet food and energy bills are encouraged to apply. Organizations supporting Asian, Black, Traveller, Gypsy, Roma, and ethnic minority communities who are not accessing support through other channels are also eligible. A small grants scheme of up to £2,000 will be available for smaller community initiatives.
Councillor Paul Hayward, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for Finance and Assets, emphasized the financial hardships faced by many residents across East Devon this winter. He expressed satisfaction that the council, in collaboration with Team Devon and Devon County Council, is able to provide practical and financial support to those in need. Full details on how to apply for assistance are available on the council’s financial support and advice webpages.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities, and Equality, highlighted the difficulties faced by many people in Devon due to unexpected costs or changes in personal circumstances. He emphasized that the allocated funds will support those most in need and expressed the council’s commitment to working with other organizations to ensure the well-being of the community.
Overall, this winter, Devon residents facing financial challenges will have access to various support measures to help them cope with the cost of living. The collaboration between local councils, community organizations, and the Devon Community Foundation aims to provide assistance to those who may not qualify for other forms of government support.