£4M set for Rhondda council to support families with school age children amid cost-of-living crisis

MORE than £4m is set to be spent by the council to help families with school age children, lower paid council workers and those suffering financial hardship in Rhondda Cynon Taf with the cost of living this year.

A report to cabinet on Monday, September 18 recommends cabinet members approve the local cost of living support scheme.

The previous scheme during the Autumn of 2022 included support of £2.89m with £1.99m coming from the council.

Now a further local cost of living support scheme for 2023 is being proposed with the total cost being £4.292m.

This will be made up of payment to families with one child or more of compulsory school age, support to lower paid council staff, a hardship fund for resident support, a hardship fund for community support, support for food banks and a community facilities energy support grant.

Payment to families with one child or more of compulsory school age will involve a payment of £125 per family with families of home educated children and families of children that attend a school outside of Rhondda Cynon Taf but
who live in RCT being eligible.

The council estimates that 22,000 families will be entitled to this and the cost to the council will be £2.75m.

Support for lower paid council employees will see those at grades one to six paid a one-off support payment supplement to their salary.

In scope roles would include home care and social care workers, cooks, cleaners, school crossing patrols and others.

It would be worth £125 per employee and be available to around 5,800 employees with the cost to the council being £942,000.

The resident support element of the hardship fund would include £100,000 towards discretionary voucher payments for residents experiencing significant financial difficulties related to heating their homes, £60,000 towards discretionary payments to residents experiencing significant financial difficulties, to purchase small energy efficient kitchen appliances, such as slow cookers, and a supermarket food voucher and £100,000 on top of the existing available resources for Discretionary Housing Payments with the total cost of the resident support hardship fund being £260,000.

For the community support element of the hardship fund, £80,000 would go towards winter welcome centres and warm hubs providing warm pack items, warm drink and snacks, £30,000 in food support to allow venues to provide hot meals and £50,000 to support residents who are experiencing significant
financial hardship with the total cost of the community support package being £160,000.

The scheme includes £50,000 towards food banks and food support grants and £130,000 to support energy cost pressures being felt across not for profit community based facilities with £540 available per organisation

In terms of funding the whole scheme, external funding of £168,000 has already been secured and £130,000 is proposed to be allocated for the Community Facility Energy Grant through the council’s Corporate Plan – Investment Priorities report to council on September 20.

The remaining £3.994m will be funded from the release of earmarked reserves and money already set aside to support cost of living pressures across the council and communities.

Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “Next week, my Cabinet and I will discuss a further package of support for residents to help with the Cost of Living Crisis this winter, which will be rolled out over the coming months.

“Unlike last year, there is less support available from government for residents, which is why we have taken the decision to use Council one off funding to support our residents.

“RCT Council will look to use £4.3 million on a range of support such as:

“£125 payment to all families with children of compulsory school age, as we know the risk of child poverty has increased with rising prices.

“Establishing a Hardship Fund to help those in significant financial distress to buy food, energy and keep a roof over their head.

“Financial support for Food Banks, Winter Welcome Centres, and community facilities, which support thousands of our vulnerable and elderly residents.

“At present we are the only Council in Wales offering such a substantial package of support residents for this coming winter. In addition to the almost 30,000 payments we expect to make, we will continue to look at what we can do to support residents during these times.

“Further details of the support package will be announced if agreed at Monday’s Cabinet meeting.”

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