I visited Harold Hill Foodbank on Friday to discuss how best my team and theirs can work together to assist local people in need of support. We arranged the visit at the suggestion of one of their volunteers, who had written to me about the cost of living, and were really pleased to meet Mark Reeves, who helped set up the food bank in 2014.
We discussed the support available to people in short-term need and looked at emerging trends with Mark from the data that the food bank holds on referrals. We also offered our help and support for those who might be dealing with other government agencies and departments.
As the Minister for Media, Data & Digital Infrastructure, I have been working with mobile phone and broadband operators on social tariffs. Social tariffs can provide a safety net for eligible households who might be struggling to afford their broadband or phone services. Currently there is low uptake of these tariffs due to a lack of awareness, and I have been working with the Department for Work & Pensions to help operators with eligibility checks.
Money Saving Expert have published this handy information table of current available tariffs, alongside eligibility criteria, if you think you might be able to access one of these deals.
On government support more generally, we are providing an additional £500 million to help provide targeted cost of living support for households most in need, bringing the total funding for that support to £1 billion. This, coupled with other measures such as an increase in the national living wage, the £9.1 billion package launched to help families with their energy bills and the increased value of Healthy Start food vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25 to helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins, will help to alleviate pressures on households in these really difficult times.
Within the Queen’s Speech and in the parliamentary debate that followed, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government would continue to monitor the impact of the current inflationary pressures upon the cost of living and that we would not hesitate to take further action to support families as necessary. Further to that commitment, the Chancellor has announced an extensive additional support package to help people, which is targeted at those in greatest need. Eight million of the most vulnerable households will get £1200 of one-off support to assist with the cost of living, with all domestic electricity customers receiving at least £400.