PEOPLE in Oxfordshire are to receive support to tackle the cost of living crisis this winter.

Today Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to a list of proposals to help people living in the county, as they face a combination of inflation and the rising cost of energy.

The council said that an initial £2 million of funding would be provided to support the plans, which include:

  • Financial support for voluntary and community initiatives, including food services, money and debt advice, networks for older people and vulnerable adults and those working with families in need.
  • An “emergency welfare scheme” administered through the county council’s customer services team.
  • Libraries and other council venues being offered as “welcoming and warm places for people to spend time, helping with isolation, loneliness and mental wellbeing as well as warmth.”
  • A grants scheme for community venues to contribute to their energy costs with the provision that they would open for a set time each week.

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The county council will also support Council Tax reduction schemes that aim to reduce the amount people with low incomes have to pay.

Councillor Calum Miller, the county council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “The cost of living crisis is one we are all aware of and we are aware of the impact that it’s having on residents across Oxfordshire.

“It’s of particular concern as we move on to the winter months, with the forecast increase on energy prices and a significant spike in food prices meaning that for many households there will be very tough choices to make this winter, potentially between eating and heating.

“This administration is committed to doing everything we can to support residents in Oxfordshire coping with those challenges.

“These are not huge sums and I regret that enormously but we as a local authority unfortunately do not have the resources to fill all of the gaps that our residents are going to face.

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“What we will continue to do is to highlight these challenges and maintain the pressure on national government for a comprehensive response, so that those on low income can weather more of the challenges that we expect them to face.”

Oxford Mail:

Councillor Liz Leffman, who leads the council, said: “The winter ahead looks incredibly difficult for people of all ages, backgrounds and incomes and for businesses and organisations too.

“We know that central government is announcing its own plans, but there is far more that they could and should do.  We believe we must act decisively to do all that we can locally to give assistance.

“Of course, in local government, we have much more limited powers than national government, but we will use all of the influence at our disposal to make a difference to people’s lives.

Councillor Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “During the pandemic, it was notable that authorities and organisations worked together in a new way trying to support each other.

“That isn’t to say that every need was met, or that we didn’t wish we weren’t in a pandemic, but it has taught us things about how much more we can do together, if we work together and I’m really pleased that spirit has been brought forward with these plans.”

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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