People across our communities and our country as a whole are continuing to feel the pressures of an increasing cost of living as prices rise at the fastest rate in more than a decade, meaning that more and more families are seeing a squeeze on their income. This will undoubtedly get worse when April comes and we see a hike in National Insurance contributions and the energy price cap removed, with a chance that energy bills could double.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau are promoting the Big Energy Saving campaign alongside the National Energy Trust, to support households to reduce their cost of living and save energy. Their campaign is promoting the best way to keep your home warm through the cold weather and your bills as low as possible, through both energy saving and advising what financial support is available. I’ll be sharing parts of their campaign on my own social media, but Leader readers can find out more by following the Citizen’s Advice Bureau on Facebook and Twitter, or visiting citizensadvice.org.uk.
In July last year the Welsh Government launched the Tenancy Hardship Fund to support those living in the Private Rented Sector if they were facing rent arrears during the first year of the pandemic. The Minister has now extended this support to include the period until 31 December 2021 and for social housing tenants who were not in receipt of housing-related benefits when their arrears built up.
This means that anyone in Wales who was impacted by the withdrawal of the furlough scheme or the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit, is now eligible to receive financial support to help them with any rent arrears. Flintshire County Council will continue to administer the fund on behalf of the Welsh Government and I would encourage anyone who has had their rent payments impacted by the pandemic to find out if they are eligible.
More information is available on the Flintshire County Council website or readers can contact me on the details below and I will signpost them to the support available for them.
The Welsh Government is stepping in, using the powers and finances they have to support hundreds of thousands of families, but we absolutely need the UK Government to step up to the plate and act now without delay or hesitation to end the cost of living crisis we are facing as a country.
Last week, in response to a question in the Senedd, I set out the importance of the Real Living Wage as a key component in ensuring Fair Work in Wales. In addition to the recent announcement around paying the Real Living Wage to the social care workers, I jointly wrote with the First Minister to all public bodies in Wales, urging them to explore how they can achieve both the adoption of the Real Living Wage and also secure accreditation as a Real Living Wage employer. Fair work – work that is secure with decent terms and conditions – brings benefits for worker and employer as well as supporting local economies and consequently our local communities. I’ll continue to do all I can both locally and in government, to encourage and support our town centres and high streets, as well as championing investment and new jobs in the area.
If you have an issue you’d like to speak to me about, please get in touch and I will do my best to help.