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Local Supplementary Cost of Living Support Scheme is proposed

Cabinet will next week consider proposals for the Council to provide an overall funding package of £2.89million, to further support local families and residents who are likely to be affected by the Cost of Living crisis. 

A report to Cabinet at their meeting on Tuesday, September 6, will provide details of a proposed local Supplementary (Discretionary) Cost of Living Support Scheme. The report proposes four specific areas of support as part of the Scheme, alongside implementation arrangements and timescales, and if agreed the Scheme will be progressed by Council Officers.

The proposed Scheme would be on top of the £150 Cost of Living payment and extra discretionary support funded by Welsh Government and delivered by the Council earlier this year, and would also be in addition to Welsh Government’s Fuel Support Scheme which is due to be delivered by the Council during autumn 2022. The Council’s new scheme proposes:

  • A payment to families with one child or more of compulsory school age – a payment of £75 will be made (one payment per family, not per child) to eligible families who live in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Eligibility includes families of electively home-schooled children and families of a child or children that attend a school outside of Rhondda Cynon Taf but live within the County Borough. Around 22,000 families will be entitled to this element of the scheme, costing £1.65million.
  • Support for food banks – a £50,000 support package provided to local food banks and for food support grants.
  • Support for lower paid Council staff – all employees at Grades 1 to 6 will be paid a one-off support payment supplement to their salary. This would be a £125 payment per employee, with 5,800 staff eligible. The cost of this element of the scheme would be £940,000.
  • A Local Cost of Living Hardship Fund – resources would be set aside to create a £250,000 discretionary fund for residents who demonstrate extreme financial hardship as a direct result of the Cost of Living crisis. Council officers would develop appropriate eligibility criteria for the Fund and this would be communicated by the Council on its website from October 2022.

Further details for the family payment and support to lower paid Council staff are included in Tuesday’s Cabinet report, and are also detailed at the end of this update.

The overall cost of the proposed scheme is £2.89million and would be funded from the remaining balance of the Welsh Government funding allocated to the Council to deliver the previous cost of living payments and discretionary support scheme (that is, £900,000). This will be supplemented by £1.99million of one-off Council resources which have already been identified and set aside.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “This proposed local Supplementary Cost of Living Support Scheme is aimed at helping those residents and families who will be hardest-hit by the Cost of Living crisis. It is a further discretionary measure to support families in light of the rising cost of fuel, food and energy which are already being experienced – with further considerable rises in gas and electricity prices coming in October.

“The Council has already played a key role in facilitating Welsh Government’s £150 Cost of Living payments and additional support this year – making 117,000 payments totalling more than £15.2million. The Council will also distribute Fuel Support Scheme payments this autumn on behalf of Welsh Government, and it is important to note that the proposed new £2.89m Cost of Living Support Scheme being considered by Cabinet on Tuesday is over and above this existing support.

“There are four main elements to the proposed Council support – to provide £75 payments for families with a school-aged child or children, a £50,000 support package for foodbanks that continue to provide invaluable help to residents, a £250,000 hardship fund to support those who find themselves in extreme financial hardship because of the Cost of Living crisis, and a £125 payment to the lowest-earning Council staff. These employees continue to provide valued public services through roles including litter picking, refuse collections, home care and social care, cooks, cleaners and school crossing patrols.

“The ongoing Cost of Living crisis is causing significant hardship for many families and residents, and the Council is committed to helping as much as it can by signposting to and distributing the external support available – as well as providing its own supplementary scheme. If Cabinet Members agree on Tuesday, the Council’s new Cost of Living Support Scheme will be progressed and implemented as soon as possible.”

Further eligibility information is included below:

  • A payment to families with one child or more of compulsory school age – compulsory school age will be determined as at the start of the school term beginning September 2022. A child begins to be of compulsory school age the term following their fifth birthday and through to 16 years old (therefore born between September 1, 2006, and August 31, 2017). The payment will not impact upon any benefits, for example, Universal Credit. Families who have previously received a family payment and remain eligible will automatically receive the new payment. Families who become eligible for the first time from September 2022 will receive a letter about how to apply.
  • Support to lower paid Council staff – the £125 payment will be made at the October payroll, and classed as earnings.
Posted on 30/08/2022