Leader statement - Universal Credit and end of furlough
Cllr Peray Ahmet, Leader of Haringey Council, said:
“We know this has been an incredibly tough 18 months for our residents and understand the pressures that the end of furlough and the Universal Credit uplift will have on our community.
“Our residents are living with high levels of uncertainty and indeed the continuation of the pandemic and I would strongly urge government to re-consider their decision on the planned £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit.
“We have a number of measures in place to support people, including the Haringey Support Fund that was launched earlier this year and helps with emergency living costs and access to essential items.
“We will continue to provide support wherever we can and engage with local communities about what works best for them. This will include making sure we use new money available from the government to help as many people as possible and continue to work with partners to provide advice and guidance on how to navigate this challenging time, including soaring energy bills.”
We are making available a variety of support for our residents, with more information available through our Here to Help page on our website.
• Haringey Support Fund: help with emergency living costs through our new local welfare assistance scheme, which launched earlier this year. This can support residents who are facing unexpected costs and require emergency help. It includes payments to help with basic living needs, such as food and utilities, and support to provide access to essential appliances, such as fridges and cookers, for those who are the most in need.
• Debt Strategy: we are continuing to implement our strategy to help residents tackle problem debt. This has included launching a new financial support team and creating new benefits maximisation roles to ensure that residents can access the advice and support they need.
• Council Tax Reduction Scheme: direct financial support for our residents with their council tax bills, which can provide up to 100% discounts for some residents
• Food Network: we are continuing to fund and work with the Haringey Food Network, which operates across all the Food Banks in the borough. We are still able to fund food supplies, including fresh fruit and vegetables, directly where necessary, bring food in through London wide welfare support and support through the provision of a Food Hub. We are working with our food banks on a month of action to help children living in food poverty – including to encourage take up of Healthy Start Vouchers, promotion of Infant Feeding Support and continuation of the Holiday Activities Fund through the autumn and winter breaks.
• Fuel poverty: we are using the Haringey Support Fund to provide direct financial support to residents with their utility bills, whilst also ensuring that residents can access the advice and support they need to stay warm over the autumn and winter – including grants and specialist information – through our Here to Help campaign.
• Free school meals: we have funded an expansion in eligibility for Free School Meals beyond the normal government criteria and provided discretionary funding to schools to allow them to respond to need as and when they see it.
• Homelessness and evictions: we continue to seek to work with people facing homelessness and eviction at the earliest opportunity ensuring they are aware of their options and rights and able to access the support they need, whether individuals or families. We continue to work with landlords and to build move-on accommodation for local residents needing support.
We are also pressing forward with a variety of other initiatives so that our residents have access to all the support they need:
• Haringey Advice Partnership: ensuring local residents get access to high quality information, advice and guidance is a recognised need and we continue to support access through Connected Communities, Citizens’ Advice Haringey and the Haringey Advice Partnership.
• Digital inclusion: a successful programme of supporting residents to access devices, data and longer term support is continuing through the autumn, given the critical nature of being able to access support online. We are also providing support to the VCS through our partnership team to support the VCS’s digital network and their work on digital inclusion.
• Community Newsroom: to support community-led journalism and getting key messages across to residents through trusted local individuals.
• Economic development: longer term, we are building a ‘good economy’ for Haringey, with an emphasis on supporting residents into employment at London Living Wage, employment support to those furthest from the labour market and an emphasis on adult education and skills too.
• Business support: the above supported by effective communications with the business sector locally, very hard hit by the pandemic.
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