Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet could establish a £2m Hardship Relief Scheme to combat cost of living crisis

As well as a proposed Council Tax freeze and multi-million investments to help the local economy’s recovery process, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet will today consider setting up a £2m Hardship Relief Scheme to help those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

The Cabinet has requested further advice as to how a remaining £2.3m underspend for 2021/22 can be used to develop a range of measures to support those who are finding it difficult to cope with soaring energy, food and other bills.

At today’s meeting,  Cabinet will discuss the council’s draft budget for the coming financial year, where it will be proposed that £2m of this underspend be ring-fenced and transferred into a specific hardship relief reserve.

The Hardship Relief Scheme will then need to be developed to target those most in need and to ensure the benefits of the scheme can be delivered over the next twelve months.

Once developed, if approved in principle on Monday, this scheme will be brought back to Cabinet for formal approval.

The Cabinet is being recommended to earmark £2m from the current 2021/22 budget underspend to form the proposed Hardship Relief Scheme which the council’s Chief Finance Officer will develop to provide targeted support to residents of the County Borough hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Ted Latham said: “The recent rise in the cost of living and the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to tough times for many and the idea of this scheme would be to help any of our residents finding themselves in real hardship.”

Cllr Carol Clement-Williams, the council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “If given approval this scheme could provide a lifeline for many struggling families.”

At today’s Cabinet meeting, a freeze in Council Tax is being proposed as part of the draft budget and essential services that support residents, organisations and businesses could also benefit from millions of pounds in additional funding.