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Extended cost-of-living support to help people out of hardship

Households in Skipton struggling with the rising cost of living are able to claim supermarket vouchers to help pay for food and other essentials over the coming months.

The fifth phase of the Household Support Fund has been extended to more than 21,000 people across the county who are eligible. It will provide a one-off payment in supermarket e-vouchers to ease the pressure of high food and energy prices.

People who receive the Household Support Fund voucher are:

· Residents who were getting the maximum discount to pay their council tax bill through the means-tested council tax reduction scheme as of June 1, 2024. They will receive a single e-voucher for £140.

The Household Support Fund was set up by the previous Government to help people who are struggling with the increase in living costs and feeling the financial pressure of paying their bills.

Tens of thousands of households in North Yorkshire have already benefitted from the first four rounds of the fund, which has provided vouchers to those most in need as well as access to other support.

Our executive member for corporate services, Cllr Heather Phillips, said:

“Families are continuing to face immense financial challenges in North Yorkshire, like all parts of the country, with high energy and food bills, but I believe by working in partnership with the Government, we can provide the support that is required.

“The Household Support Fund has been a lifeline for many households in North Yorkshire who are struggling financially as inflation continues to present challenges with many recipients telling us how the voucher has really helped provide some short term relief from the immense pressure people are facing. As before, we will continue to prioritise supporting the most vulnerable in our communities alongside the Government.”

As with earlier rounds of the Household Support Fund, eligible households have been sent a letter from ourselves containing an individual code. This code allows them to download a supermarket e-voucher quickly and easily through the online portal, with the option of a printed version.

Most people redeem their voucher through the user-friendly process without any assistance, but council staff are on hand to support residents over the phone, by e-mail or in person at seven main council offices

Staff and volunteers at 42 libraries in North Yorkshire have also been on hand offering face-to-face support to people who do not feel confident in accessing their vouchers online.

Our head of libraries, Hazel Smith, said:

“Our teams have been helping people redeem and print their vouchers since 2022 and it’s always such a satisfying experience when we receive feedback from recipients saying the vouchers helped tremendously with getting food and household supplies in these difficult times.

“Please don’t worry if you’re not confident with technology. Our library teams are trained, experienced and ready to support residents who are eligible for the vouchers, providing they bring the letter received in the post and with one of the forms of ID mentioned in the letter with them.

“You do not need to arrange an appointment, just call in and we’ll be happy to help, although there may be a short wait at busier times. While we can print the voucher, we can also help to download the voucher so people can use it digitally if that’s what they prefer.”

The nine different supermarkets people who are eligible can choose from are Aldi, ASDA, Farmfoods, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Only ASDA, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose offer both in-store and online shopping.

Cllr Phillips added:

“I would urge anyone who is eligible and gets a letter to make sure they do redeem their voucher by Monday 5 August. Nobody will know when you use your voucher in the supermarket that you’ve had a Household Support Fund payment, it will look like any other voucher.

“There is no need to apply for your e-voucher or phone the council as everyone who is eligible will be contacted, but you can check your eligibility online.”

The latest round of the Household Support Fund has also been used to supplement other schemes which will help residents with their household costs. This includes support for foodbanks and other schemes providing free food across the county.

A further £100,000 has been invested in the North Yorkshire local assistance fund which provides financial emergency support with food and utilities and a fund managed by North Yorkshire Citizens Advice and Law Centre, which helps people struggling to pay their energy bills, has received an additional £250,000.

Find out more information about phase five of the Household Support Fund visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/benefits/household-support-fund

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