Councillors voted in unanimous support of Dorset Council leader Councillor Spencer Flower’s proposal for a £2m cost-of-living support fund for residents in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
The £2m will be funded from the council’s reserves.
Proposals were developed by officers in response to the request from Councillor Flower.
The fund will support a range of projects to provide immediate and longer-term support to those residents hardest hit by the cost of living. Projects include:
- Support for low-income households, disabled people and vulnerable older people with measures to improve the energy efficiency of their homes
- Off-grid energy discretionary vouchers for households reliant on off-grid energy sources (oil and gas)
- Additional Discretionary Housing Payment allowance to help prevent residents becoming homeless
Supermarket vouchers for residents in greatest need
- Further support for Dorset’s network of social supermarkets, community fridges and food banks
- Additional pre-school hours for 3-4 year olds, enabling more parents to work
- ‘Ready to thrive’ locality programme to support children with their readiness to start school.
Dorset Council says it works closely with partners such as Citizens Advice Dorset, Age UK North, South and West Dorset, the NHS and Jobcentre Plus through the ‘Dorset Together’ network to provide support for residents in greatest need.
It says it has provided significant support to residents with the cost of living over recent months, including:
- Paying out over £18m to over 127,000 households in energy rebates
- Helping 615 households facing homelessness
- Providing free holiday activities and food to nearly 2000 children eligible for free school meals
- Providing 10,500 supermarket vouchers to eligible households
- Supporting over 80 ‘warm hubs’ where people can go for company and warmth
However, the council says there is still a need for additional support with the cost of living. The most recent tranche of Household Support Funding in January was fully claimed by eligible residents within hours of going live, showing the high level of need.
Councillor Spencer Flower said: ‘High prices continue to put pressure on household finances and I am acutely aware of the need to support our most vulnerable residents, including families, disabled people and older people.
‘I asked officers to develop this comprehensive package of support which will be supplement the work we have already done to help people with the cost of living. The measures will be carefully targeted at those residents with the greatest need and will provide immediate support with food and energy costs.
‘The measures will also leave a lasting legacy through investment in energy efficiency of homes and support for children with early year education and starting school.’