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Progressive Alliance announces £500,000 package to help residents suffering with cost-of-living

The Progressive Alliance which runs Milton Keynes City Council is set to launch a £500,000 support package to help people who are suffering during the cost-of-living crisis.

The energy crisis and efficiency funding will provide practical support for people who are struggling financially, following the news that energy bills could soar past £5,000 in January.

Alongside the continued support available from Milton Keynes City Council services, there will be an additional telephone helpline launching in October – this will provide a higher level of energy advice and support and will operate throughout the winter. It will offer an increased level of financial assistance for those on the lowest incomes, information about potential grants and/or funding towards energy efficiency measures.

In addition, the Council will implement a new online voucher portal that will help the local authority and the voluntary sector in issuing support with the cost of food, fuel and essential living items. The Council will also issue bulk fuel awards to pensioners on low incomes prior to the winter period.

Other features of the support package include:

· Home energy performance reviews; the Council will work with partners to advise communities what work could be undertaken to improve energy efficiency of their property, and potentially allow groups of homeowners to collectively apply for grants (e.g. whole streets)

· Energy crisis community drop-in sessions across the city which involve multiple agencies to help people with cost-of-living pressures

Councillor Rob Middleton, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Resources, is set to agree the package at a Delegated Decision tomorrow (6/9):

“The cost-of-living crisis is already devastating families’ lives, and it is only expected to get worse. Families shouldn’t have to choose between heating their homes, putting dinner on the table, or getting themselves into debt but unfortunately that will be the harsh reality for thousands of people across the city. The Progressive Alliance has committed to mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis as much as possible by providing over £18m in direct financial support this year, and we hope that this support package will provide practical help and guidance to those that need it.”

Councillor Jane Carr, Lib Dem Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for the cost-of-living crisis, added:

“It is heart-breaking that the soaring cost of living is plunging countless families into poverty. The Government has even said that middle-earners on £45,000 will struggle to pay the bills. What hope does this leave for pensioners and other low-income families? While the Government has been failing to act, the Council has stepped up to provide a network of support. Families shouldn’t have to plunge into poverty due to the failings of this Government.”

Last week, the Progressive Alliance announced that Milton Keynes City Council-owned buildings (including libraries) would be made into emergency warm spaces during the winter. The Council will also work with partners to make more buildings, such as community centres and churches, available so that people have a warm space within close distance to their home.