Published on

11 October 2023

Get up to £240 to help with food and bills this winter

The autumn round of Household Support Fund grants has now opened to provide financial support to help those struggling to pay for essentials

Financial support

Wokingham Borough residents who are struggling to pay for essentials during the cost of living crisis could get a grant of up to £240 to help with the cost of food, fuel and other essentials. The autumn round of Household Support Fund grants has now opened.

The funding helps anyone struggling with low income or who is unable to afford essentials like food and fuel, as well as families that receive means-tested free school meals. Wokingham Borough Council and its Hardship Alliance partners organise payments to residents.

Grants have been increased to take account of the higher costs of food, fuel and other essentials, as well as the fact that many residents living on low incomes see a steep rise in the cost of living during the colder winter months.

The parents of children who receive means-tested free school meals in term time can apply for a grant of £20 per week for each eligible child during the school holidays – an increase from £15 per child each week. The higher amount will be paid from the October half-term onwards.

Residents who are struggling to pay for essentials can apply for a one-off grant of £120.

Households with higher costs can apply for a one-off £240 payment. This payment is available for households that are struggling to pay for essentials and also have four or more people and/or have at least one member who is a pensioner, disabled, or a carer of a disabled adult or child.

How to apply for help

If you have applied and received a grant from Age UK Berkshire or Citizens Advice Wokingham between April and September 2023, you can now apply again. New applicants are also welcome. If you received vouchers to cover the cost of meals in the school holidays from First Days Children's Charity since April 2023, you do not need to apply again. You will automatically receive support.

If you miss any school holidays due to applying later, you will get a back payment up to the previous school holiday when you’ve applied. New applicants can apply now through the First Days website.

Amy Garstang, manager at Wokingham United Charities and chair of the Hardship Alliance, said: “Winter is a more expensive time of year for people due to needing to keep their homes warm to keep them healthy. Bumping payments up for the winter makes sense to ensure residents have the right amount to support them for these more expensive winter months. Check the Government’s Help for Households pages for advice on saving energy this winter.”

Range of support available

Cllr Rachel Bishop-Firth, executive member for equalities, inclusion and fighting poverty, said: “Thousands of residents continue to grapple with higher costs for food, energy and housing than ever before. Money is available if you can’t afford food or to heat your home adequately. I’d urge anyone who is struggling to come forward and apply to get this money if they need it. In the process, our partners can help you access a range of support available locally to keep you safe and healthy this winter.”

The council has also created a £250,000 fund for longer term projects to tackle the root causes of poverty. More will be announced on these soon. The Hardship Alliance was formed last year and is made up of a group of four local charities, Citizens Advice Wokingham, First Days Children’s Charity, Age UK Berkshire and Wokingham United Charities, alongside Wokingham Borough Council.

All the latest cost of living help and advice for the borough can be found on the cost of living help hub.

The Household Support Fund is paid for by the Government. Wokingham Borough has been given £1.05 million to help residents in 2023/24, out of a total of £842 million funding which the government has made available to help the most vulnerable across England.

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