The Chancellor’s move in today’s Spring Statement to give local authorities a further £500million of Household Support Fund money will help provide vital lifelines for the most vulnerable, said Kent County Council’s (KCC) Leader.
In parallel, Roger Gough said KCC would continue its focus on initiatives aimed at building Kent communities’ longer-term resilience to economic shocks caused by COVID, the war in Ukraine and the rising cost of living crisis.
This includes tackling digital poverty and providing financial advice through the Helping Hands Scheme and, via the Reconnect programme, generating more opportunities for the county’s young people to gain work experience.
The Kent and Medway Employment Task Force, which is chaired by the County Council’s Leader, will also continue playing a pivotal role in opening up new job opportunities and boosting skills.
The news comes as KCC confirmed more than 4,000 of the most hardest-hit households in Kent are receiving one-off payments to help cover their water and fuel bills from an earlier round of support funding.
A total £1.5million of Household Support Fund cash is being distributed by the authority to those most in need who are struggling to pay for essential utilities as a result of COVID. Thousands of families whose children are entitled to benefits-related Free School Meals are also being assisted by the fund with food vouchers for the upcoming Easter holidays.
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “COVID restrictions may have been lifted but the pandemic’s impacts on our communities runs deep, leaving some individuals and families finding it hard to get back on their feet.
“Shockwaves from the Ukrainian conflict are also creating new financial challenges and contributing to the cost of living crisis, so the Chancellor’s announcement today extending the Household Support Fund to help those struggling financially is a very welcome vital lifeline.
“Working with our partners across the county, we have been able to put a number of support fund measures in place, including schemes to help with water and fuel bill payments. Food vouchers will also once again be provided over the Easter holidays by KCC for families whose children are entitled to benefits-related Free School Meals.
“No one should struggle to provide for themselves or their family. We will continue to do what we can to help and I would urge anyone who feels they are in need of support to get in touch with our Kent Together helpline.
”I am also clear that short-term funding is not a permanent fix and we continue to work with communities, partners and our Districts and Borough colleagues to create opportunities and jobs, increase skills and support local businesses to help people build brighter futures.”
If you are struggling because of the impacts of COVID-19 or for other reasons, Kent Together can help you find the support that’s right for you.
There’s full details about Kent Together on Kent County Council’s website here: www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/protect-kent-and-medway/help-and-advice-for-residents/kent-together
If you need help using any of the information, you can contact the Kent Together helpline on 03000 41 92 92 (text relay 18001 03000 41 92 92). If you need access via British Sign Language, you can contact the Sensory Services Team via SMS on 07920 154 315 or via SignLive VRS on the community directory.