On Monday, the council’s Labour Cabinet will agree an £800,000 package of support to help Rotherham residents being hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

Labour’s plan will put £500,000 into a scheme to offer grants of up to £250 to people who are unable to pay their energy bills after recent price hikes. A further £300,000 will be used to expand Discretionary Housing Payments for people struggling with rent payments in light of the rising cost of living.

Councillor Chris Read, said:

“We’re all watching the rising cost of electricity and gas bills with alarm, and most of us will have to tighten our belts for a while. But for some people – especially the elderly or others on fixed incomes – spiralling bills can become a real nightmare. Whilst the Tories in Westminster have ignored Labour’s call to cut energy bills by up to £600, we are putting in place additional support for our communities now.

“We already know that more people are needing to turn to advice services. So, as we move on from Covid, we’re committing half a million pounds to help thousands of Rotherham households who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay their bills, with further support for people at risk of homelessness when they can’t make rent payments – providing direct financial support to those who need it most.”

Up to £250 will be available to households as a one off grant towards energy bills and where possible paid directly to the energy provider. People using pre-payment meters will also be eligible.

Providing additional funding for discretionary housing payments will make support available to more households, to cover costs such as a rent shortfall, rent deposits or rent in advance if they need to move home.

The council is advising anyone seeking financial support and advice, or who wishes to make a claim for Discretionary Housing Payments, to do so online via www.rotherham.gov.uk/council-tax-benefits.

In February Rotherham Citizens Advice Bureau reported a 50% month-on-month increase in the number of people requesting financial advice. The council’s Advocacy and Appeals team recorded a 66% increase in enquiries in the year from January 2021.

This latest support to households comes after recent announcements that all eligible Rotherham households will receive their £150 council tax rebate directly through April and May – with households in council tax bands outside the national scheme automatically receiving £80+ at the same time.

14,500 low income Rotherham households in reciept of Council Tax Support will also automatically benefit from Labour’s local top up, a payment of up to £112 – lifting many families out of council tax for the coming year.

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