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Westminster announces plan to invest an extra £2m to support most vulnerable this winter

Published: 24 November 2022

Westminster City Council today announces it is to pump an extra £2m for a raft of new measures to help its most vulnerable residents cope with the cost of living crisis. 

As food prices surge to a 40 year high, the local authority has said it is determined to take action to help those most in need over the coming months. 

The package, will also see more access to vouchers for emergency household essentials. 

And homes on pre-payment energy meters – which have among the very highest tariffs and most often in rental properties occupied by people on low incomes or financially insecure - will also be given assistance. 

It comes on top of the previously announced £8m of measures unveiled to shield households from the worst effects of soaring bills, part of a comprehensive cost of living strategy unveiled in July. This includes the Winter in the City initiative that highlights safe, warm, welcoming and free places, which includes the recently announced Royal Albert Hall, for residents to use and visit across the winter months. 

The first tranche of the additional £1m of funding announced today (24th November) will go towards: 

  • up to four new food banks and pantries 

  • topping up existing welfare budgets by providing crisis help as vouchers  

  • energy vouchers for those on prepayment meters 

  • support for targeted advice for the most vulnerable, including hard-to-reach communities 

The council has also unveiled its intention to set aside a second tranche of £1m to support local communities in the new financial year.  

Adam Hug, leader of Westminster City Council, said:

We know just how badly households are being hit by a triple whammy of rising household bills, increased interest rates, and a recession. 

“The poorest in society are always hit hardest in these circumstances, the toll on their already stretched finances becomes too much. 

“Not only is it the right thing to do but too often it’s at moments like these that the lives of people can be irreversibly damaged. 

“An unexpected bill, unemployment or any manner of things can set in motion a chain of events that in the long run would cost us much more as a local authority.

Among those to receive funding will be the Cardinal Hume Centre, which will employ two front of house trainee advice workers over the next year.  

George O’Neill, Chief Executive of the Cardinal Hume Centre, said:

In recent months the Cardinal Hume Centre has registered a significantly higher number of clients than this time last year. It feels like we are beginning to see the true impact of rapidly rising inflation. 

Sadly, all the evidence is suggesting that this will worsen into the winter months as the cost of fuel, food and housing all increase. 

Organisations like ours are having to step up to meet this increasing demand. We are bolstering our frontline teams so that we can increase the advice available on housing and welfare issues, enhancing our support to families to enable them to cook together and will be providing shopping vouchers for food and other essentials. 

At such a critical time, this support is hugely welcome.

One of the first foodbanks will be on the Hallfield Estate, Paddington.

There are currently 20 food banks and pantries across Westminster.