Winter essentials packs for Redbridge’s vulnerable

Vulnerable Redbridge residents struggling to stay warm this winter may receive “essentials packs” from the council.

Expecting bills to rise further by the end of the year, deputy leader Kam Rai has asked council officers to think of ways to support residents through next winter.

This includes support packages for the most vulnerable containing “simple things” like blankets, hot water bottles, advice on keeping homes warm and information on nearby foodbanks.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Rai said the council knows it will need to get support to “those most in need”.

He added: “We’re doing some announcing on what we can do with household support funding grants, but it still isn’t enough.

“Even if the sun is shining, I’ve already asked officers to put together what proposals for winter we can have to help people.

“Older people are really frightened by what they’re hearing, they’re not using hot water or gas.

“These are the ones living alone and it’s really having a big impact on them because they’re afraid.

“The simplest thing now is making sure that older people who live alone, or with dependents […] can get a winter essentials pack, because they’re the most susceptible.

“It’s at that level, the government is giving us a lot of words, I know there’s funding but we’re in a place where there are a lot of people who are afraid to even use utilities – that’s where their mindset is now.”

Cllr Rai said although the government has offered some financial support, it’s also using “a lot of words” while the cost of bills continues to rise.

He added: “As a local authority we feel really frustrated and will try to help as much as possible with what we can do to help, but ultimately we need the government to step in with this.

“The frustrating thing is that as a local authority we don’t have a magic bullet, with the levers that the government has, but unfortunately they’re not using them.

“We are already planning to see how we going to support people over the winter months.

“We’ve started that conversion and are looking at every way we can help.

“As a community we will need everyone to get involved, like people helping with their older neighbours to support their communities.”

Links for support provided by Redbridge Council:

  • Energy rebate: A one-off £150 payment will go to all homes in council tax bands A-D, for more details click herehttps://www.redbridge.gov.uk/council-tax/energy-bill-rebate
  • Household Support Fund: 43,000 funding awards were made by the council last winter, totally just under £2million. It is distributing a further £2m for residents before September.
  • Foodbanks: Emergency Trussell Trust Foodbank vouchers are available from the council’s welfare benefits team on 020 8708 4180.
  • Free school meals: To find out if your child is eligible, click here: https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/schools/free-school-meals/
  • Go Green Grant: Free installation of energy-efficient improvements can save up to £600-a-year, more information here: www.redbridge.gov.uk/go-green
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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter