At the Highland Council meeting held on 30 June 2022, elected Members approved a package of support totalling £3.639m for low-income households and economic growth.
The approved package consists of:
- £0.591m – one-off grants of £125 each will be paid automatically for around 4,700 vulnerable children and young people in Primary 1 to 6th year who received school clothing grants as at 31 May 2022.
- £2.552m – a one-off payment of £145 each will be paid automatically to around 17,600 households who were in receipt of council tax reduction and those who are exempt from paying council tax on the grounds of having a severe mental impairment, those who are providing or receiving care in a place other than their main home, and council tax payers who are aged under 18 years at 31 May 2022.
- £0.115m – fund for families experiencing distress and trauma
- £0.025m – funding to Citizens Advice to support provision of energy advice
- £0.210m – Environmental Health and Trading Standards investment for support to businesses
- £0.146m – investment in welfare support and administrative overheads
This Council will identify all those who are eligible for the £125 and £145 payments and will contact them to confirm bank details so that payments can be made this summer.
A discretionary fund will also be available for families experiencing distress and trauma to enable assistance to be provided when access to other financial assistance is not available.
Investment in Citizens Advice for energy advice, in the form of advice about energy bills and energy efficiency measures, was also agreed.
Continuing support for business, Environmental Health and Trading Standards support for local businesses will be increased and will include public health advice and enhanced online services on the Council’s website.
These enhancements complement the dispersed business grants, totalling in excess of £200m, and a discretionary business grant fund of £3m, which is planned for later this year.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Raymond Bremner said:
“£3.6m is a fantastic boost for the Highlands.
“This fund provides ongoing support for our local businesses to help with recovery and business growth.
“Increasing costs of living mean more and more families are feeling the pinch and are having to cut back on discretionary spend.
“People who are vulnerable and on low incomes are struggling even more and having to make hard spending decisions.
“The welfare support package agreed by Members today will go some way to help households across the Highlands.”
Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee, Cllr Derek Louden welcomed the report and said:
“This is a significant injection of money that will not only go some way to help people who are faced with a dire financial situation, but will in turn support local businesses.
“The timing of these payments will also help Highland’s most vulnerable children, young people and adults at a time when their incomes are being stretched.
“I am also delighted that the Council is able to continue support for local businesses to help with regulatory compliance and to build on the £200m support provided so far.
“Our businesses are coming through extremely challenging times, so it is important that the Council takes steps to further enhance support in this way.”