Published: 20 July 2022
A massive initial package of financial and other support, worth £5.5m, will help those Westminster families struggling the most with the huge increases in the cost of living.
New research from Westminster Council has found that around a quarter of households – 31,000 – face a serious reduction in living standards due to rising costs, such as fuel, energy bills and food.
The local authority has also identified four groups as particularly vulnerable to the crisis, single people on low incomes (on benefits or in work), those living with disabilities, families with children, including lone parents, and pensioners.
In response, the council’s new administration has announced a comprehensive 8-point package of help for the most vulnerable residents in the city, that includes:
- An initial £5.5m of funding going to those who need it most.
- Help with paying the bills
- Help with the cost of food and energy
- Help with energy efficiency
- Help for people to claim benefits to which they’re entitled
- Help with debt and financial advice
- Help for the most vulnerable
- Working in partnership, to maximise our combined impact
Part of the package (£200k) will be committed to extending the Westminster Hardship Fund which has seen a significant surge in referrals in recent weeks. The Fund provides supermarket vouchers for all low-income households and had been facing a potential funding shortfall following the significant increase in demand.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Adam Hug, said:
We know that the cost of living crisis is hitting our communities hard. The alarming spike in residents using food banks as people struggle to put a meal on the table just shows that urgent action is needed.
We’ve worked quickly and closely with all partners to identify those residents most in need and can now announce our new eight-point plan that is already helping families and our communities.
We are acutely aware that the crisis is likely to worsen as we approach winter, and we will be constantly reviewing our support so that we can continue to reach as many residents as we can.
This announcement forms the centrepiece of a new dedicated Cost of Living Strategy that is built around the following pillars:
- Targeting an initial £5.5m package of support to help families in Westminster that are struggling with the rising cost of living
- Working with our partners to ensure that we coordinate and maximise our impact
- Making sure our residents have the information they need to access all the support that is on offer to them
In the longer term, the council’s new Future of Westminster Commission will play an important role in helping the council bring together knowledge from both Westminster and beyond to help us tackle the cost-of-living crisis. The Commission’s Fairness and Equality Review will help advise the council on next steps to find solutions to this once in a generation challenge.
Find out more about all the support available on our cost of living support hub