West Oxfordshire District Council offers ongoing cost of living support
West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) is showing its support to those affected by the cost of living crisis by focusing funding towards local community groups, households struggling with energy costs, and offering a community-focused Resident Support service for residents to feel heard and supported.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Andy Graham, said, "We understand that the cost of living crisis continues to affect many members of our community, and we want to do all that we can to help.
"The Council has already done a lot to try and ease the burden, but we recognise that these are still challenging times, and there is still much support available that we encourage everyone to take advantage of.”
Last year, the Council agreed a total fund of £200,000 over the next two years, aimed at providing additional support to local communities and council services that cater to the needs of those struggling with the high cost of living. The council's support schemes have been developed in partnership with local communities, ensuring that they provide the best possible support where it is needed most.
Councillor Joy Aitman, Executive Member for Stronger Healthy Communities, said, "The Council is committed to supporting our communities, and we understand that many community food groups in the West Oxfordshire Community Food Network are struggling to cope with the lower levels of donations but a high demand for their services.
“For this reason, we have allocated a financial package of £40,000 to offer a helping hand to community food groups in the West Oxfordshire Community food network. We believe that this funding will go a long way in ensuring that these groups have the resources and funding that they need to continue supporting residents through these difficult times.
“We value the important work that these groups do, and we will continue to do our part in promoting healthier and stronger communities. Our goal is to ensure that every resident has fair access to the resources they need to thrive, especially during these difficult times."
The Council has provided funding for voluntary and community organisations and town and parish councils. The funding is providing activities that reduce isolation, support health and wellbeing, and reduce the impacts of rising living costs. It also has been able to keep current activities going and encourage new ones that will bring people together in communities.
The community-focused Resident Support Worker post will also continue for an additional 12 months, with the current skilled officer continuing to provide phone and online support to residents. The Council recognises that the officer has great local knowledge of services that will be needed beyond April 2023.
Cllr Aitman continued, “WODC’s current officer offers crucial support to people facing various challenges, including addressing cost of living issues like food, energy, rent, and debts. He listens to residents' concerns, offers solutions, and provides referrals to local resources such as foodbanks, Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire, and Better Housing Better Health for financial assistance and energy-saving advice.
“He has worked across the district, recently attending cost of living support events and Warm Spaces in Witney and Chipping Norton.
“In addition the Council has provided additional funding to Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire to help them to increase capacity to meet increasing demand and also £20,000 top up to the Citizens Advice managed Local Welfare element of the Household Support fund'.
The Council funded Better Housing Better Health service continues to support residents struggling with rocketing utility bills. Fuel poverty grants are available for low income households to improve energy efficiency and have already assisted four families.
The Sustainable Warmth scheme has provided funding to over 30 low income households to upgrade their inefficient homes through the installation of a range of energy saving improvements.This scheme has helped households to reduce energy use, make their homes warmer and healthier and keep energy costs under control. Low income households that are not connected to mains gas heating can now register an interest for forthcoming grant schemes.
Additionally, to further promote community engagement, energy advice drop-in sessions have been held in Witney and Carterton, and the Council hosted a climate change and nature event with parish and town councils to discuss improving energy performance so as to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.
Councillor Graham added, "We recognise the importance of maintaining open communication with the communities we serve, and we are committed to working with them to provide the support they need.”
“We urge everyone in need of cost of living support, to reach out to us, and also check the government website to find any wider support that you could be eligible for.”
You can find more information about our cost of living support on our website, www.westoxon.gov.uk/costoflivingsupport , or visit the government website for further support, https://www.gov.uk/cost-of-living .