West Northamptonshire Council will be providing £1,000,000 of help for those facing the choice to ‘heat or eat’ as the cost of living crisis escalates.
Vouchers for supermarket shopping will be made available to more than 20,000 of the area’s most vulnerable.
Council leader Jonathan Nunn says he hopes the move will ease some of the financial pressures families and the elderly who are facing soaring costs of fuel, heating and food.
Councillor Nunn said: “We are all seeing our cost of living rise but for some this can mean having to decide if they are going to eat or heat their home and have hot water or have electricity or gas to cook with.
“In total, we will be providing support to 20,060 individuals. We are issuing these vouchers to those people who are most in need, hopefully helping to alleviate the financial pressures they are experiencing in meeting their increased bills.”
The CEO of Northampton Hope Centre charity said recently he fears the impact of cost-of-living increases on local communities will be desperate.
Robin Burgess added: “We’re already seeing donations reduced because people are having to tighten their belts to fend off rising household expenses. Just imagine what it will be like for the people out of work, on low or no incomes.”
Money for the scheme is coming from Department for Work & Pensions Household Support Fund.
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Letters and vouchers will start going out to those eligible from Wednesday (March 30).
Previous recipients of Household Support Fund fuel vouchers, which has operated from December 2021, will get up to £80 while all house owners or renters who receive council tax reduction benefits — including pensioners — will receive £50 vouchers.
These vouchers can be redeemed against shopping costs at a range of supermarkets but must be used by April 30.
The Government’s Household Support Fund was set up to support those most in need during the winter period.
West Northamptonshire was allocated £2,599,628 and the DWP gave local authorities a wide discretion on how these funds should be used, primarily to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills.