MORE than £4m will 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.
Recommendations approved by cabinet on Monday, September 18 saw the local cost of living support scheme given the go ahead.
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 has been given the go ahead 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, leader of the council, said it is a substantial package of funding and a considerable amount will go to the wider community.
He said had they done the free school meals during the six week school holidays the amount they’d have paid out would’ve been around £1m but what they’re putting on the table today is around £4m is by far the biggest financial package any council in Wales is bringing forward.
He added he hopes there’s more support from Welsh Government or UK Government coming as this winter is going to be extremely difficult for families, individuals and organisations.
Deputy leader Councillor Maureen Webber thanked the council despite the pressures it’s facing for being able to contribute this to communities and fellow cabinet member Councillor Christina Leyshon said it’s a fantastic achievement from RCT in these difficult times.