Council looking at alternative sources of fuel support funding

Angus Council is looking at how to maintain fuel-support funding for locals for the rest of winter after the first amount allocated was spent.

Monday, 6th February 2023, 12:00pm
Council looking at alternative sources of fuel support funding

At the end of June last year, members approved distribution of £1.672m from the Scottish Government Local Authority Covid-19 Economic Recovery (LACER) Fund.

But a report written by the local authority’s Depute Chief Executive, Mark Armstrong, shows that £1,567,000 of this has already been allocated due to need.

With high demand for winter heating, and bumper bills arriving at homes, £390,319 of £400,000 from the LACER Fund allocated to fuel poverty support, has been spent.

The impact of continuing economic pressures on people across the region is also starkly clear in answers provided by headteachers at local schools.

They were asked to describe the “main cause of this financial hardship”. Answers given in April 2022 were compared with those offered in December.

Responses describe communities in a deep struggle against soaring fuel and food prices.

Families are forced to make choices between heating and eating, and other bleak decisions on essentials.

Councillors approved Mr Armstrong’s report with questions asked on whether other sources of funding were available to continue meeting the community’s needs.

Scottish Labour councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw, Heather Doran, queried how “agile other funding can be” as the fuel poverty funding has already almost been used up.

She asked: “If that fund has been spent and is maxed out, is there space for other funds that are maybe underspent and to direct funding towards one-off support payments for fuel poverty? I’m conscious that bills for December and January are coming in and the weather is still cold.”

Audrey Michie, service leader of vibrant communities said: “There is a very small surplus within the LACR funding that we’re currently looking at the moment as a top-up.

“We’re working behind the scenes to try and leverage other monies. There’s not a lot of sources open at the moment for that type of funding, but the project is ready to go, should any external funding come available.”

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