Last Friday saw the first meeting of the Perth and Kinross Anti-Poverty Taskforce as they begin stepping up efforts to combat the Cost-of-Living Crisis. The taskforce was agreed by Councillors last month in response to the deepening economic crisis.
The meeting, which was held at the Dewars Centre in Perth saw representatives from the local authority, partner agencies, charities and the third sector meet to discuss what can be done to reduce the immediate impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the longer-term causes of poverty.
Opening the inaugural meeting, Perth & Kinross Council Chief Executive Thomas Glen said: “In 2019, it was estimated there were 5,155 children living in poverty. I don’t think anyone round this table thinks that has declined during Covid or the Cost-of-Living Crisis.
“We are clear tackling poverty is something we must place at the heart of what we do.”
Friday’s meeting saw issues raised including the need to encourage more employers to pay the Living Wage, obstacles to work such as limited transport and rural poverty as well as food and fuel poverty.
Grant Laing the leader of the council spoke about the cross-party support for the taskforce saying: There is a whole council approach to this as we all recognise the issue.
“We will always have an open door to listen – it is such a big issue there’s no point in trying to solve it in little groups.”
With funding from the Scottish Government there has been an additional investment of £3.3m to mitigate the impact of poverty and the cost-of-living crisis, while a further £4.5m has been invested to expand activities including free school meals, meals during school holidays and home energy efficiency measures within council rented properties.
A number of measures have already been put in place by the council to mitigate the effect of the crisis. These include the Financial Insecurity Fund, investment in welfare rights, money and debt advice, increased investment in energy efficiency advice and providing additional funding for the provisions of community food.
PKC Financial Insecurity Fund
This fund is specifically designed to tackle financial insecurity and support households with essential needs and priority debts over the winter. It has been created using the Council’s share of £20 million provided by the Scottish Government for this purpose.
People can also apply to the Financial Insecurity Fund if they have:
- No recourse to public funds
- Priority debts including fuel debt
- Broadband debt that prevents you getting online, or you require a data package
- Difficulty meeting the essential costs of children under two-years-old or a child with disabilities of any age, such as nappies, milk or wipes
- Additional costs of living rurally
Applications can be made via https://www.pkc.gov.uk/financialinsecurityfund or by calling the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 0345 30 111 00.
A decision on all applications will be made within 15 working days of its submission.
Free school meals and clothing grants
Free school meals are offered to all pupils in P1 to P5, children above this you may be able to claim free school meals if certain benefits are being claimed by their household. You may also qualify for a school clothing grant for your children.
Call 01738 476200 for more information or view the free school meals and clothing grants page https://www.pkc.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals.
For more information on the full list of support available from Perth and Kinross Council visit https://www.pkc.gov.uk/costofliving.