Support for 1,700 Liverpool families at Christmas time

Support: Fuel and gift vouchers are being issued to families this festive season (photo credit: Getty Images)

MAYOR of Liverpool Joe Anderson has announced plans to help around 1,700 families and individuals this festive season.

A total of 1,000 households with a child under one who are in receipt of housing benefit or council tax support, or who have been affected by the benefit cap, will be able to claim a £40 voucher to help them with their winter fuel bills. The city’s 200 care leavers who live independently will receive a £30 fuel voucher and £20 cash voucher.

The cost of the vouchers – around £50,000 – is coming from the Mayor’s Hardship Fund and the city council’s not-for-profit gas and electricity supplier, www.theleccy.co.uk.

Care leavers are also getting other gifts, including vouchers from a health research project that council staff were involved in and hundreds of gifts from Liverpool City Council staff.

In addition, the city’s Children’s Centres are issuing supermarket vouchers with a value of between £20 and £50 in the run up to Christmas to help more than 500 local families have a good festive season.

It is part of a comprehensive programme to support people in crisis, at a time when people are struggling due to welfare reform and the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Letters offering the winter fuel vouchers are being sent out this week to the families who are eligible, letting them know how they can claim their fuel voucher over Christmas. Vouchers need to be claimed by end-January.

The council has invested £23m in supporting people and families in crisis, such as those on low income or at risk of losing their home, including £2.7m in crisis payments to help people with the cost of food, fuel and clothes and £3.05m to protect people from reforms to housing benefit payments.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration but we know there are some families that spend months worrying about how they will make it special for their loved ones because they are struggling to make ends meet.

“Demand for foodbanks and crisis support continues to grow in our city due to a combination of austerity and welfare reforms. What we are doing here is working with our benefits team and foodbank organisations to identify those who need support to give them extra support.

“Christmas Day is the one day of the year when no-one should go without a decent meal, and this funding will help give families some much-needed cheer this festive season as well as helping with heating bills as the weather gets colder.

“This is just one element of the support we are providing to those most in need in Liverpool and follows on from our recent appeal for people to drop foodbank donations off at our buildings, which had an overwhelming response.

Debi McAndrew, Liverpool Children’s Centre co-ordinator, added: “We know from our work with families that thousands of households will really appreciate the extra support that this will give at this time of year.”