Our community has now faced nearly two years of disruption from the pandemic. Left vulnerable by a hard Brexit, the UK faces the toughest winter in living memory, but the Johnson Government appears to be in a state of denial. They are instead raising taxes on low-income households, removing the safety net of the furlough scheme, increasing the energy price cap and, this week, cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week.
These callous actions will drive many in our community into poverty.
We must continue to press for change in Westminster, but at the same time we need to ensure that every household can access every other kind of support possible. Thankfully, there are organisations who are there to help even when the national government is not.
If you or anyone you know is worried about rising energy costs:
- Citizens Advice has a summary of grants and benefits
- Simple Energy Advice give advice on how to benefit from the Energy Companies Obligation to help with measures to make homes more energy efficient
- Age UK have a really useful guide on Winter warmth for older people.
If you are a pensioner (or are supporting some who is) make sure you (they) are claiming the Pension Credit. This benefit, paid to the poorest pensioners, has a notoriously low uptake with a report last year by the charity Independent Age noting:
“If Pension Credit take-up was lifted from the current uptake of 61% to 100% then almost 450,000 people could be lifted out of poverty, reducing pensioner poverty to its lowest ever level.”
For those of us are who are not of pension age, Turn2Us provides a benefits calculator that lets you check that you are claiming all the financial support you are entitled to.
Local government is also here to help, and Cambridge City Council provides a wide range of support and further links to other local community groups. At the same time, as Councillors we are here to help and support – your local representatives can be found here.