Salford City Council has committed over £3 million to provide essential support to residents, families and young people facing challenges with the rising cost of living.
The funds come from a one-off refund of £3.203 million from the Greater Manchester Waste Levy and will form part of our on-going commitment to help address the economic hardships experienced by some of our households in the city.
The package of support includes increased funds for Salford Assist which helps people in crisis with essential items such as food, gas and electricity or furniture. In the last year this service has processed applications from approximately 20,000 families, with demand for support outstripping what funding is available each year. This further financial support for Salford Assist increases Salford’s long standing commitment to tackling poverty and providing financial support directly to residents.
School holiday meal vouchers will be enhanced to £90 per child during the six week summer holidays for those eligible for free school meals, ensuring our children have access to a nutritious meal over the summer and all school holidays. The support is a lifeline for many families in the city as we continue to see those eligible for free school meals increasing in the city to over a third, from 24.2% in January 2019 to 34.3% in January 2023, highlighting the absolute necessity and importance of this work.
There will be additional support for care leavers with the cost of utility bills, further investment in Salford’s Leaving Care Service and investment in the Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme, supporting those residents, families and young people who may find themselves at risk of homeless, in temporary accommodation or tragically sleeping rough on our streets.
Increased investment will be made into the city council’s Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service to deliver a benefit take-up campaign for people of pensionable age, along with support and welfare rights advocacy to support eligible residents in the take-up of pension credits within the city and any other associated financial support that may be required. This investment builds on the work of the Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service, which despite it not being legally required or funded by central government to deliver such services, has supported residents and families in claiming £6.5 million in missing and underclaimed social security and related entitlements in 2022/23.
Salford’s Credit Union is also set to receive financial support, to further develop its work in providing an ethical and secure alternative for residents and households to high-cost lenders and loan sharks, with the aim of increasing awareness, providing a junior savings club and reducing interest rates on loans for 12 months. The work of the city’s Credit Union has become especially important at this time as the cost-of-living crisis has further exacerbated the possibility of residents becoming victim to loan sharks and high-cost lenders.
Salford Community Leisure (SCL) will provide subsidised activities for low income families and the successful Holiday Activity Fund will be extended to provide a universal low cost offer to all, subject to demand, during school holidays for the next year. SCL will also help to reduce food and energy costs for people over 70 by providing café discounts.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “On the one hand it’s absolutely tragic that we’re having to use a one-off refund of £3.203 million from the Greater Manchester Waste Levy to deliver this much needed Cost of Living Support Fund as this funding should form part of the grant we receive from central government each year to support many of our residents, families and young people who are grappling with the tragic impacts of the cost-of-living crisis that has engulfed the UK.
Currently the government’s Household Support Fund is only confirmed until the end of this financial year, after not being uprated by inflation this year. It is critical the government urgently look to increase annual allocations of the fund by inflation and provide councils up-and-down the country with certainty about its continuation in the medium to long-term.
Our new additional measures will provide much needed support to many people in need across Salford. We’ve put a lot of consideration into how we can make the greatest impact on those hit hardest by the national cost-of-living crisis. Bolstering funds in key places will be a real life saver, directly putting money in the pockets of our residents who continue to struggle with rising food, energy and housing costs.
“We’re committed to supporting residents through the cost-of-living crisis, with both financial assistance, advice and guidance, as well as through our partnership working in the city, as tackling poverty and inequality continues to remain a priority for the Mayoral Team and the work of Salford City Council.
This additional help also builds on existing support we provide, from the council’s independent welfare rights and debt advice service to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme which helps those on low incomes with council tax bills. Our Back on Track initiative assists residents with council tax arrears, while our BetterOff Salford initiative provides in-person and digital support to help families and businesses to maximise their income.
“In the Spirit of Salford, we’re working together with organisations across the city to help support residents at this difficult time.”
Residents can find help on a range of cost-of-living issues at www.salford.gov.uk/costofliving