Torridge Councillors have approved a further package of funding to support local projects and initiatives, which includes an immediate top-up for a dedicated fund to help support households that find themselves in need of a “helping hand”. The direct funding follows on from previous schemes, that included both government and Torridge Council funding, introduced in response to the Covid crisis and the financial hardships this created for many families and individuals. The allocation is intended to bridge the gap until follow-on funding from the government is distributed via Devon County Council, which is expected shortly.

The interim funding recognises that while “living with covid” might be the new norm, in many cases the financial impact on households is actually getting worse with inflation, fuel, food and utility costs at record highs and forecasted to deteriorate further. The Community and Resources committee decision has allocated £36K to the fund in line with a desire from Councillors to make a meaningful and quick response to the looming crisis. 

In line with previous support, the funding will be managed through the Councils partner charity, Encompass, who work across Devon to prevent and reduce homelessness and the impacts of poverty. By design the application process is set to be simple and straight forward and can be used to support or cover the cost of a whole range of necessities that in the current climate people might be struggling to afford. Councillors envisage this might include utility bills, food, housing costs, rent or replacing white goods such as fridges and washing machines, but the need will be dictated by the applicants themselves, and there are no set criteria for what the funds must be used for.

In the same decision funds were also allocated to support other important local organisations and projects, which included additional funding for the critical work the local Citizens Advice Bureau undertake, taking their funding from Torridge to £50K. Money was also allocated for community developers working with individuals requiring multi agency support under the partner “high-flow” project. Other allocations will also support economic regeneration projects in the area bringing in further external investment and jobs, an officer post to assist development of the councils housing strategy and a reserve for the capital programme to offset increasing material and other costs being experienced.

Councillor Claire Hodson – Deputy Leader of Torridge District Council said:

“The recent package of funding was unanimously passed by Councillors and while it covers a whole range of Council initiatives one of our key priorities is to continue to provide a “helping hand” where people find themselves in unexpected crisis. This can happen to any of us at any point in our lives and we want to make sure there are no barriers, real or imagined, to people seeking help. All applications will be dealt with entirely in confidence and people should not be worried that it reflects negatively on them in any way whatsoever. While we can’t replace government benefits or other sources of support we can try to step in and help in a small way for essential purchases that households might be struggling to finance. This will support our residents until the further additional government funding is received”

Contact details for the support can be found on the Torridge Councils website and social media or by calling Encompass for free on 01271 371499. Lines are open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 3pm.