Ealing has recently secured extra government funding under Household Support Grant to support even more struggling residents. This has allowed the council to temporarily widen the eligibility criteria for local welfare assistance.
The extra funding is in place until the end of March. Residents who have applied before, but were not successful, have until 31 March to see if they can receive help under the new rules.
All payments are discretionary and the criteria for who is eligible is listed on the Ealing Council website.
Free school meal vouchers
The extra funding also means that the council can give a helping hand to families who qualify for free school meals, because of their low income and whose children attend an Ealing school.
Those who are eligible will receive a £50 voucher per eligible child over the coming Christmas holiday, a further £25 for the February half-term holidays and £50 in March to help them through the Easter holidays. Parents do not need to apply for these holiday vouchers. Eligible families should receive the Christmas holiday vouchers next week.
Families who believe they may be eligible for free school meals are strongly encouraged to apply. Free school meals are available when parents or carers receive certain benefits or, in some cases, have no recourse to public funds.
Ealing has been hit hard
Ealing has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the impact on Heathrow and its supply chain has left many local families struggling. The local welfare assistance scheme is designed to help households that would otherwise struggle to pay for food and other essentials or pay utility bills and the expanded scheme means that more families than ever are eligible.
Expert help with debt advice, budgeting support and finding a job is also available, and the team can also signpost residents to local charities and organisations that can assist in other areas, as well as advice on other benefits that residents may be able to claim.
Councillor Steve Donnelly, cabinet member for inclusive economy said: “Winter is always a difficult time of year and the fall-out from COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis has made it worse than ever for many of our residents.
“I am very pleased to say that our local welfare assistance is here to help Ealing residents who are in a financial crisis, but it’s a lot more than that. We also have a team of experts on hand to work with people longer term to help them on to a more stable financial footing and leave the cycle of debt and crisis behind.
“I encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to go online and see if they meet the criteria.”
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for decent living incomes, said: “The pandemic, cost of living crisis, and the cut to universal credit has hit Ealing hard and some of our residents are struggling to pay for even the basics like food and heating. No one should have to live like this, and we want to get the message out there that support is available for local people that are struggling.
“Our local welfare assistance team offers residents a wide range of support. As well as crisis payments, they’ll help people to check they’re receiving all the benefits they’re entitled to and give debt, employment, and skills advice. Our team is here to help people to get on to a stable financial footing so they can start to build a better future for their families.”