Householders reminded just days left to redeem vouchers

Volunteers at community groups such as Hambleton Community Action can not only assist in downloading supermarket vouchers and print them if needed, but they also provide a “shop and drop” service for those struggling to visit a supermarket.

Householders who have been contacted to say they are eligible for support to tackle the cost of living crisis are being encouraged to claim a supermarket voucher to alleviate pressures on their finances.

The Household Support Fund is designed to help people who have been identified as struggling with the increased cost of living.

Last month, the fourth phase of the scheme was rolled out to just under 22,500 people across the county who are eligible. It will provide a one-off payment in supermarket e-vouchers to ease the pressure of global inflation.

People who will receive the Household Support Fund payments are:

  • Residents who received housing benefit on, or between, January 26, 2023, and February 25, 2023, but did not qualify for the cost of living payment made in April and May 2023 for people on low income benefits or tax credits. They will receive a single e-voucher for £450.
  • Residents who were getting the maximum discount to pay their council tax bill through the means-tested Council Tax Reduction Scheme, as of August 14, 2023. They will receive a single e-voucher for £110.

The scheme was initially set up by the Department for Work and Pensions to help people meet the cost of energy bills, food and other essentials as the country recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tens of thousands of households in North Yorkshire have already benefited from the first three rounds of the fund, which has provided vouchers to those most in need as well as access to other support.

The national criteria has been updated for the fourth phase of the scheme to help those who missed out on other cost of living support from the Government, as well as other low-income households.

So far, 82 per cent of people have claimed their voucher and the remainder of residents are being encouraged to redeem their entitlement before the deadline of Tuesday, October 24.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said: “We would encourage everyone who is eligible to receive a Household Support Fund voucher payment to claim it.

“This is national funding and is specifically designed to help people with the rising costs of essential items, especially with the winter months around the corner. If you have received a letter to say you are eligible for a voucher, we would like to reassure you that many other people are in the same situation.”

Eligible households received a letter from North Yorkshire Council last month (September) containing an individual code. This code enabled them to download a supermarket e-voucher quickly and easily through the online portal, with the option of a printed version.

The process has been designed to be user-friendly and the vast majority of people redeem their vouchers without any assistance, but residents who need support can get help over the phone or on email from the council’s customer service centre team.

Face-to-face help is also on hand at eight council offices across the county as well as all North Yorkshire libraries. Details of these local venues and contact details for the council’s customer service centre are included in the letters.

North Yorkshire Council is also working with community and voluntary sector partners to support those residents who don’t have family and friends nearby to call on and are unable to leave their home.

Volunteers at community groups such as Hambleton Community Action can not only assist in downloading supermarket vouchers and print them if needed, but they also provide a “shop and drop” service for those struggling to visit a supermarket to pick up groceries due to limited mobility or ill health.

Kathryn Watts, who is an administrator for the Hambleton Community Action charity, said: “It’s a very easy and straightforward process. Once we have their shopping list, our volunteers will do the shopping in store at a local supermarket then drop it back to their home for them.

“Alternatively, for those who wish to do their own shopping but have no transport and require a bit of support, our volunteers can drive them from their home address, accompany them shopping, help read the labels, reach for items and help at the till. They will then take them home again with their shopping.”

The latest round of the Household Support Fund has also been used to supplement other schemes which will help residents with their household costs. This includes support for foodbanks and other schemes providing free or low-cost food across the county.

A further £400,000 has been invested in the North Yorkshire local assistance fund which provides emergency support with food and utilities and a support scheme managed by North Yorkshire Citizens Advice and Law Centre, which helps people struggling to pay their energy bills, has received £500,000.