Leader of Wandsworth council, Simon Hogg, has unveiled a package of initiatives to help locals through the cost-of-living crisis.
The package of support initiatives includes:
- Keeping council tax low.
- Establishing a Cost-of-Living Commission to investigate how residents can be supported by the council.
- Requirement for all new council contracts to ensure provision for all staff to be paid the living wage, along with encouragement for local employers to do the same.
- Working alongside schools to delvier a holistic food strategy for children, covering breakfast, lunch, and after-school. This is with the aim of reducing food poverty and ensuring all children are receiving healthy, nutritious meals. Vouchers are also to be distributed for children who qualify for free school meals to cover food costs during the summer break.
- The creation of a Cost-of-Living Hub which will work in partnership with Citizens Advice, to make sure that residents can access support that they are entitled to.
- More energy efficiency and water saving devices to council tenants, as well as collaborating with internet providers to ensure low-cost internet connections for families that are struggling.
- Increasing the available funding to support residents facing hardship through the Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund.
- Improving access to the Government’s Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme by making funds available to help residents who are not liable for council tax so would miss out on support from the government scheme.
- Providing a cost-of-living payment to every pensioner household in receipt of council tax reductions, equating to £130 per household.
In a report to councillors, Hogg wrote:
“Wandsworth is a fantastic place to live. Its strong diverse communities represent the best of modern Britain. I want to keep Wandsworth special - and make sure everyone can benefit from the fantastic opportunities and prosperity it provides.
We are committed to doing all we can to support our residents during these tough financial times. However, we know we do not have all the answers and we cannot act alone. In the Autumn we will bring together a Cost-of-Living Commission of wide-ranging, diverse talent to look at how we can support our residents.
Over the course of a year this Commission will break out of the confines of the Town Hall and meet in community spaces to hear the challenges residents face and the ideas they have. Based on what they see and hear the Commission will develop a set of actions that we as a council, together with our partners, can take to support our residents better.”
These initiatives are a big step from the council, who are conscious of the struggles that households are going through, and will continue to endure, as the cost-of-living increases. Some of the policy initiatives will be subject to further discussion and scrutiny from the committee before being officially adopted.