Council to set up special helpline for Milton Keynes residents struggling with cost of living

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A cost of living helpline is part of a £500,000 package to be launched to assist struggling families in MK.

The service, to launch next month, will give advice and support on how to save energy and claim all available financial help and grants.

It is part of a half a million pound support package due to be approved tomorrow (Tuesday) by the ruling Labour and Lib Dem Progressive Alliance of councillors.

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It follows the news that energy bills could soar past £5,000 in January next year.

A package of support will be put in place to help families struggling to pay the bills in MKA package of support will be put in place to help families struggling to pay the bills in MK
A package of support will be put in place to help families struggling to pay the bills in MK

The package will include bulk fuel awards for local pensioners on low budgets, along with an increased level of financial help for all residents on the lowest incomes..

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.

Officers will work with partners on ‘home energy performance reviews’, advising communities what work could be undertaken to improve energy efficiency of their property.

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This could potentially allow whole streets or groups of homeowners to collectively apply for grants.

Special energy crisis community drop-in sessions will be launched across the city, involving multiple agencies and designed to help people with cost-of-living pressures.

Councillor Rob Middleton, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet member for Resources, said: “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.”

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