Wirral Council has teamed up with fuel poverty charity Fuel Bank Foundation (FBF) to help families struggling to pay for fuel this winter. The Council has allocated £100,000 towards the project from Wirral’s £1.2million Covid Winter Grant Fund, which is part of a Government programme to help ensure children, families and vulnerable individuals do not go hungry or without utilities and other essential items.
The £100,000 will be administered by FBF and used to provide emergency fuel vouchers to families unable to top up their prepayment gas and/or electricity meter. The voucher should keep the lights and heating on in a home for up to two weeks and is available to customers of all energy suppliers.
Families in need of support will be referred to FBF by Wirral Council’s COVID Financial Support with Welfare Needs Scheme, as well as local referral partners Involve Northwest, Energy Projects Plus and Citizens Advice Wirral.
Launched in 2015, FBF has financially supported more than 300,000 people, with more than £6million of emergency fuel credits awarded in total. Today, the charity operates more than 140 Fuel Bank centres across GB.
Matthew Cole, FBF chair of trustees, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Wirral Council and its local partners to deliver much needed support for vulnerable families this winter.
“The council has identified fuel poverty as a growing problem in the borough, compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, it is taking proactive steps to provide financial assistance and advice so families don’t have to live in hardship and can afford to heat and power their homes. It’s good to see a local council taking a positive approach to tackling fuel poverty.”
In addition to FBF, Wirral Council is working with a range of community and voluntary sector partners to provide more than £1.2 million of funding to projects to tackle the borough’s greatest welfare needs. This includes breakfast and lunch over the Christmas break for thousands of children who usually receive free school meals, ‘Warm and Well’ packs for hundreds of vulnerable older people, funding for dozens of community-based food support providers and white goods and other essential items for people in crisis situations.
The Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Janette Williamson, said: “This ground-breaking project is part of a coordinated package of support put in place to support our most vulnerable residents this winter and is needed more than ever as the economic effects from the pandemic continue to worsen. Through working with experienced partners it will get people out of crisis situations and help find sustainable solutions to their problems.”
People in a crisis situation can make an application for support at www.wirral.gov.uk/welfaresupport or by calling the Coronavirus helpline on 0151 666 5050.