A SECOND cost of living payment has been made available to tens of thousands of eligible residents across St Helens.

As part of the government's £94 billion cost of living support package between 2022 and 2024, the second of three £300 payments will be made to millions of struggling families across the country.

In St Helens, 26,900 households are estimated to be eligible for the cost of living payments, which are made automatically to those on means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or tax credits.

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St Helens Star: The financial package is for those on means-tested benefitsThe financial package is for those on means-tested benefits (Image: Getty)
The support package builds on other cost of living payments made by the government, worth up to £1,200, and forms part of the package worth an average of £3,300 per household.

Further support is also scheduled to be made available for vulnerable households through winter fuel payments, with an additional £300 Pensioner Cost of Living payment.

Nearly three million low-income households are also eligible for a £150 rebate on their winter electricity bills through the government's Warm Home Discount, which came into effect on Wednesday, November 1.

St Helens Star: St Helens Council has created an action group to support residents through the cost of living crisisSt Helens Council has created an action group to support residents through the cost of living crisis (Image: St Helens Council)
Earlier this year, we reported on how the council has helped to support vulnerable residents and those struggling with soaring bills throughout the cost of living crisis.

As the cost of living crisis began to make an impact across the borough, St Helens Council created a Cost-of-Living Action Group with representatives from the NHS, police, housing associations, food banks, community centres, schools, and sports clubs.

This was to "identify where support is needed" and work together with different organisations to support the most vulnerable.

Identifying those most in need of financial support, this allowed the group to signpost eligible residents to the different government grants that have been handed out throughout the crisis, providing a much-needed boost to people's finances.

This has seen residents get discounts on their energy bills, boosted benefit payments, and funding to retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient.

St Helens Star: Leader of St Helens Council, Cllr David BainesLeader of St Helens Council, Cllr David Baines (Image: St Helens Council)

Speaking about the support for residents during the cost of living crisis, St Helens Borough Council Leader, Councillor David Baines said: 

“Recognising the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on our residents, we have been working with a range of partners to deliver national relief schemes and ensure that local support and advice is in place and accessible.  

“We created a Cost-of-Living Action Group with representatives from the council, NHS, police, housing associations, food pantries and food banks, churches, community centres, colleges, schools, and sports clubs to identify where support is needed and how we could work together to support the most vulnerable.  

“We have established Warm Spaces across the borough where people can go to for support, with the aid of partners in the faith and voluntary sectors, including Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action. 

"These hubs are a lifeline to many local people, providing warmth, food and drink, signposting to financial support and energy saving advice, as well as activities to improve mental health and wellbeing and reduce social isolation.  

“Thanks to the effort and support from local voluntary and community groups we now have at least one Warm Space in every ward.  

“Our Affordable Warmth Team, Food Provision Team, Revenues and Benefits Team and Wellbeing Service attended the sessions to provide advice on how to keep warm for less, what benefits they may be entitled to and how to keep fit and healthy during the winter months.

"Local partners such as Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice, Credit Union, United Utilities, Job Centre Plus, and Torus attended our larger sessions to provide advice on managing bills, and how to enhance their prospects.  

“And we partnered with Job Centre Plus to host an event at St Helens Town Hall where 20 local partners attended to provide support. 

“In November [2022] myself, all councillors, and dozens of representatives from the local public, private, faith and voluntary sector wrote to Government with clear asks to help residents with the cost-of-living crisis, and setting out the urgent need for fair funding for essential services.

"In early February we received a response which made clear additional support was not coming, but despite our plea falling on deaf ears we will continue speaking with one voice and working together for the good of the whole borough. 

“The cost-of-living crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, with energy bills due to rise again in the future. We will be putting plans in place to continue to support residents and ensure those most in need can remain warm, safe and healthy.”  

A dedicated page has been set up on St Helens Council's website where residents can find out how to get help on a range of cost-of-living topics. For more information, visit this link.