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Blaenau Gwent councillors agree £746k package to help residents with cost of living

SUPPORT packages worth £746,000 to help Blaenau Gwent residents deal with the cost-of-living crisis have been approved by councillors.

The Discretionary Cost of Living Support Scheme proposal was discussed at a Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council meeting on Thursday, September 29.

The money comes from the Welsh Government and is given to local authorities so that they can decide for themselves where the money needs to go.

This funding comes on top of the Cost-of-Living Support Scheme (COLSS) being rolled out across Wales until the end of September, which sees a payment of £150 to help deal with the cost-of-living crisis for those who live in a house which is the A to D council tax bands.

Council leader, Cllr Steve Thomas explained that “slight changes” had been made to the proposal following recommendations from the Corporate and Performance Overview scrutiny committee which had looked at the proposals last week.

Part of the scheme included giving £100,000 to Blaenau Gwent foodbank and £50,000 to the Citizens Advice Bureau

At the scrutiny committee, Cllr Tommy Smith suggested tweaking this and giving Blaenau Gwent foodbank £30,000 with £70,000 to be available for other organisations to bid for funding.

Cllr Wayne Hodgins said:

“We would do anything to support our communities through troubled times.

“We are going into a harsh winter, if people can’t come to us for support, it’s a poor show and I fully endorse this.”

Cllr George Humphreys said:

“This is fantastic, and I total agree, but I am concerned about the people who haven’t claimed the one-off payment which finishes tomorrow (Sept 30).”

He asked whether the council could find out why some people that qualify for the £150 under the main COLSS scheme had not applied.

The council’s chief officer for resources Rhian Hayden said:

“All those people who we believe are eligible for the scheme will be written to.

“If we don’t have their bank details, they will be asked to make an application.

“The Welsh Government indicated for those under the main scheme (COLSS) that haven’t applied, we will be able to credit their council tax accounts.

“So, they won’t miss out.”

She added that these had also been covered in the council’s discretionary scheme.

Councillors agreed unanimously to the scheme.

The proposals include:

Payment of £150 would be given to householders in Council Tax Bands E to H who have not claimed support through the council’s Council Tax reduction scheme;

A payment of £150 would be given to households, where on February 15, 2022, all residents were: students, under the age of 18, have severe mental impairment, have an annexe or self-contained property where an elderly or disabled relative lives, all residents have left council care and are between 18 and 25 years old, the house is unoccupied as the resident is in care, hospital or nursing home or is a carer elsewhere;

Payment of £150 would be awarded to householders who qualify for the main COLSS scheme but had not applied for it before the end of September;

A payment of £100 will be made to households who have their sole or main
residence in Blaenau Gwent and were in receipt of a Free School Meal payment in August 2022.

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