With home energy bills set to rise in October, Oxford City Council is working with partner groups to make sure people can get the help they need this winter.
The council is working with community groups, charities and other public sector organisations to provide a wide range of support, including:
- Hardship support grants from local advice centres and the council
- Help with housing costs and dealing with landlords
- Ways to take the pressure off the weekly food shop, including food larders, the Healthy Start card.
- Financial and debt advice services
- Insulation grants and insulation upgrades for council tenants to cut heating bills, and advice on energy efficiency
More funding to is expected in October through the Household Support Fund from central government.
The council has been working to make sure everyone in the city who qualifies has claimed their £150 council tax energy rebate.
Find out what help is on offer
The council has provided a directory of services that are there to help, available as a printed booklet from libraries and community centres, and the directory is also available on the council web site.
Setting up warm spaces
The council is looking at opportunities to work with community groups, public buildings and public event organisers to build a network of warm spaces and free activities across the city through this winter. The council is in discussions with leisure centres, community groups and organisations that can offer regular warm spaces and one-off events. The council aims to provide an online map of warm spaces and a diary of events, any organisations wanting to get involved should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
At times of crisis people are at risk of being ripped off or exploited. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is running an awareness campaign on loan fee fraud, where scammers charge an up-front fee to arrange a loan. Being asked for an upfront fee, or pressured to decide quickly on borrowing, is a warning sign that it could be a scam. Loan sharks will also be profiting from people’s financial problems, organisations including Citizens Advice and StepChange have advice on avoiding loan sharks or what to do if you have borrowed from one.
“People are very scared about how they will cope this winter, including many who have never needed help before. No one should be ashamed of needing help, our government should be ashamed that so many people are being pushed beyond coping.
“We’re working alongside brilliant organisations across the city to make sure there is help for everyone. If you’re in crisis or worried about future bills, contact the council or your local advice service. You don’t have to deal with this alone.”
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities
This week (7 Sept) City Council leader Susan Brown also wrote to the new Prime Minister to call for more support for businesses. Uncapped energy costs for businesses and organisations are leaving many with stark choices and the threat of closure.
“There has been a failure to acknowledge the depth of challenge businesses face which could conclude in a winter where many thousands of people become unemployed as businesses downsize or permanently close, making the problem for individual households worse.
“Any organisation or entity with property and production costs is in trouble. Nurseries, community centres, manufacturers, research institutions, pharmacies, public services, museums, charities and galleries. They all form an important part of an eco-system that makes up our local economy. They hold our community together.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council
On 8 Sept the government announced it would be introducing an Energy Price Guarantee for households which will limit price rises, and a six month programme of support to businesses. Full details of both schemes are expected shortly.