Oxford City Council has been allocated nearly £270,000 funding to support residents who are struggling to make ends meet this winter.
The funding can be used for vouchers and services to resolve financial problems, and residents may also be helped to find advice services as part of the support offered.
In Oxford, the funding will go towards a number of different services to make sure the right support is in place:
- £80,000 to advice centres who provide emergency goods and services to help with food, utilities and other costs.
- £6,000 for community larders, giving £1000 each for the larders in Barton, Blackbird Leys, Botley, Cutteslowe, East Oxford and Rose Hill
- £60,000 has been set aside to support local community groups offering support
- £16,000 to each of the Council’s locality response hubs, who provide direct support to residents with food, utilities and other essentials
The funding comes from Oxfordshire County Council’s £3.4m allocation from the national Household Support Fund, which is to support the poorest residents with essentials such as food and utility bills.
Food support networks
Oxford has a strong community food support network, but has seen a rise in the numbers needing help this autumn. The new funding will enable them to provide more households with essential help. The Council aims to work with community partners to make sure support gives people long term solutions, not only an immediate food parcel.
Community larders provide a sustainable way to provide low cost food, providing people with surplus food from supermarkets and supply chains for a very low cost membership fee (£3.50 a week for individuals and £7 a week for families). Local community larders are listed online
Oxfordshire County Council is also using funding from the Household Support Fund to ensure children in Oxfordshire on free school meals are supported through the holidays this year.
Help with utilities and essentials
Advice centres are well known in their local communities and often the first place people turn to for help. The funding will enable them to provide vouchers towards utility bills, essentials like warm bedding and cooking equipment. The Council’s own locality hubs offer similar support, but are also able to co-ordinate council services such as housing, council tax and issues with welfare payments. The funding for locality hubs will also be available to those with no recourse to public funds.
Funding for community groups
£60,000 has been set aside for Community groups in Oxford to apply for funding to support vulnerable residents with essential such as food and energy bills. Full information on how community groups can apply to the Household Support Grant is available online.
Future support for renters
As well as the Household Support Fund, the government last week announced £65m for councils to support tenants in rent arrears. The City Council is waiting for more information from government on how much funding will be allocated to Oxford and how this new support will work.
How to access help
Residents needing help can contact the council on 01865 249 811 or contact their local advice centre.
“Residents in Oxford continue to struggle with the financial impacts of the pandemic, and this autumn the extra money for Universal Credit, the furlough scheme and self-employment support have ended. That means many people looking at the coldest, darkest months with less money in their wallet just when they need it most.
“We are working with community partners to make sure this money reaches those who need it most. We know it can be hard to say you need support but you’re not alone, many staff and volunteers have been in that situation themselves. If you need our support this winter please ask for help.”
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities