NOW that the Country is in Alert Level 0 and Covid restrictions have relaxed significantly since last summer, many of Ceredigion residents are only now witnessing the full financial impact of the pandemic.
There are concerns about the removal of the £20 per week top-up to Universal Credit payments and about the restart of the minimum income floor for self-employed people on Universal Credit, both of which are due to happen in September. Furlough support has started to taper and employers now have to take some tough decisions about their staffing levels.
The cost of food and fuel have risen sharply and the temporary 6 month eviction protection period is due for review in September which may reduce security for tenants to pre-pandemic limits. Anyone needing to move on will also feel the impact of recent rises in demand for housing reducing choice, availability and affordability. Many people are seeing their electricity and gas bills rise, and from October there will be increases in the level of the energy price cap, affecting even more households. Speaking to Citizens Advice’s energy team can help make sure your bills stay as low as possible and you claim any extra help your entitled to.
Councillor Ellen Ap Gwynn is the chair for Ceredigion Public Services Boards Tackling Hardship sub-group. She said: “There is a lot of support and help available, it’s important that people see this as their absolute right and entitlement. We have brought together officers from our Revenue and Benefits service, Housing Options service, Press & Communication service and the CEO’s of CAVO and Citizens Advice Ceredigion to make sure that we work together to make sure that those who are struggling can get access to the benefits and advice that they’re entitled to have. The Benefits page on the Council’s website has a lot of information about the support that’s available so please take a look.”
Serretta Bebb, Citizens Advice CEO for Ceredigion said: “People tend to come to Citizens Advice when they’re at crisis point. Ideally we’d love people to get in touch when they’re first starting to feel the pinch, as there are a lot more options to prevent things getting worse, the earlier you get help. Our advisors are very experienced and can help with benefit claims, debts, housing issues, health & safety at work, housing and a lot more. All these issues are incredibly stressful and really affect people’s health and wellbeing. Ceredigion Citizens Advice have continued to help thousands of clients throughout the pandemic, using telephone, email and video face to face, so please get in touch. We can also point you towards other sources of help and support, for instance social housing tenants can also contact their Landlords for help with money and other issues.”
The Council is urging residents who are facing these challenges to not suffer in silence and to get the help they need. The Council’s Benefit webpage has a vast amount of information available to residents: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/benefits.
Ceredigion Citizens Advice Bureau can be contacted by phone on 01239 621974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.