Putney MP Launches Directory To Help with Cost of Living Crisis

Includes links to organisations which can help those struggling

Fleur Anderson meets volunteers at Roehampton Foodbank


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Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, has launched a new directory on her website for local people looking for help with the cost of living crisis.

The directory includes contact details for services such as SWLEAP, who have free Energy Cafes, home visits and telephone energy advice sessions with trained Energy Advisors. It also includes information about being referred to Wandsworth Food Bank, which can be done directly through Ms Anderson’s office.

The National Insurance rise starts to hit pay packets this week, meaning that local workers will be worse off but the increase in costs isn't just hitting working people. Ms Anderson says that retired people face the biggest real terms cut to pensions in 50 years, and 1.7 million older people are set to miss out on a council tax rebate as heating bills rocket. She quotes figures that show with rising inflation and the decision to only increase the state pension by 3.1 per cent, a basic state pension for an individual will be worth around £222 less in real terms over a year than in 2021/22. For a couple, it will be worth around £355 less.

Research by 38 Degrees found that in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, compared to last year, 73% have more expensive energy bills, 60% are paying more for fuel, 61% are paying more for transport, and 32% have lost income due to the cuts to Universal Credit.

Ms Anderson, MP for Putney, said, "I spoke out so many times about the Government's need to do more to help people struggling to make ends meet. Along with other Labour MPs, I have opposed the raise in National Insurance and proposed a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas companies' massive profits and cutting VAT on fuel bills. This would have cut bills right now.

"Sadly, this has been ignored. Neither the Chancellor nor the Prime Minister is prepared to take the action that is needed.

"I have had countless people contacting me because they have to choose between heating and eating - many of them before the increase in National Insurance and the spike in energy prices.

"In response, I have put together the ‘Where can I find help?’ community directory on my website. It is a list of fantastic organisations and handy contacts that can help people in Putney, Roehampton, and Southfields find the help they need. I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible. I have included help with housing issues, referrals to local food banks, information about hardship funds available to residents, and much more."

Sarah Chapman, Advocacy & Communications Manager at Wandsworth Foodbank, said, "In the last 12 months across Wandsworth, we've provided almost 10,000 emergency food supplies for local people and families. This is a 52 per cent increase on pre-pandemic levels. One-third of these emergency food parcels were for children. We're seeing people unable to afford to heat their home properly, people going without food for one or more days, and parents skipping meals so their children can eat.

"Beyond the emergency food, our four Foodbank Advisors provide expert advice and support to help people try to maximise their income, for instance through reducing deductions to benefits, and being able to access disability benefits to which they're entitled, as well as grants from Wandsworth Council.

"We also have Talk Wandsworth and Family Action co-located with us, to provide much-needed mental health and wellbeing support to people experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety due to lack of income for essentials.

"If people need emergency support from Wandsworth Foodbank, and are not sure who to speak to about referring them to us, they can phone our national helpline for free on 0808 208 2138 and talk confidentially to a trained Citizens Advice adviser. This helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm (closed on public holidays).

"They can help address your crisis and provide support to maximise your income, help you navigate the benefits system, and identify any additional grants you could be entitled to. If needed, they'll issue you with a voucher so
you can get an emergency food parcel from Wandsworth Foodbank, which people can then bring to one of our seven food bank welcome centres across Wandsworth borough. There's more information on our website about how to get help."

Wandsworth Council grants are available to any Wandsworth resident whose income doesn't cover essentials. They include crisis grants for food and fuel, Discretionary Housing Payments to help with rent, and community care grants to provide essential white goods like cookers and fridges and essential furniture like beds.

Wandsworth residents who receive Council Tax Reduction (except for pension age residents) are also eligible for a one-off fuel support payment of £60 for a household without children and £120 for a household with children. Fuel Support Payments can be used if people pay by bills or direct debit, as well as prepayment meters. People need to apply online or by phone asap as it's not clear how long this provision will be available.

Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, said, "This cost of living crisis and the need for food banks will continue until the Government get a grip and ensure that everyone has enough to cover the essentials, and I will continue to hold them to account in Parliament.

"Wandsworth Foodbank and lots of other local organisations are doing a fantastic job, going above and beyond to help people who are being let down.

"If you are struggling, please take a look at the directory on my website. Please also feel free to contact me. I will always do everything I can to help you."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he had “absolutely no problem” with hiking national insurance to help fund the NHS while acknowledging that households would face choices to help make ends meet.

To view the directory click here.

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April 8, 2022

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