East Renfrewshire: Cost of Living Crisis Gift Card Scheme

Gift cards worth £105 are set to be distributed to more than 4,500 households in east Renfrewshire to help lower the cost of living and boost business.

The plan is expected to be approved at a cabinet meeting of East Renfrewshire council next week.

The cards, which must be spent in local shops, would be provided to low-income households, those who benefit from council tax reductions in bands A to G are eligible.

It is part of a series of measures designed to support Covid recovery, with around £1.5million provided by the Scottish Government for the projects.

Other proposals include a community hardship fund for housing association tenants in Barrhead, winter clothing support for students and an energy poverty fund.

A report from council officials says: “This funding will provide much needed support to our local businesses and residents who have been impacted by Covid-19.

“The challenge facing all local authorities is that the funding, while welcome, is limited in nature and will not fully meet the potential demand for support.

“To meet this challenge, this proposal offers a range of different supports with the dual policy objective of helping both low-income households to become more economically active and local businesses to grow.”

If Cabinet approval is secured, the council would set aside £533,891 for the ‘Scotland Loves Local’ gift card, with the money used to cover the cards for 4,532 households, plus additional staff and associated costs.

It is hoped that the program will be launched in the fall.

Measures planned to help East Renfrewshire residents include £107,000 for Barrhead Housing Association to identify ‘tenants who need support at this unprecedented time of demand for services and rising cost of living’ life”.

They could access a community hardship fund, with grants of up to £250 to pay for clubs, lessons or memberships, education such as evening classes, skills development activities and clothing for a specific event or need, such as a job interview or a winter coat.

There would also be £65,000 for winter clothing support for low-income families, providing money for pupils who ‘do not quite meet eligibility for government-provided family transition payments Scottish”.

It is expected that around 500 children will benefit.

The council also plans to invest £250,000 to top up the budget for the Scottish Welfare Fund, expand a ‘discretionary humanitarian fund’ administered by East Renfrewshire’s Money, Advice and Rights Team (MART) and propose a new fund against energy poverty.

Almost £55,000 is said to be spent on an adult learning project to ‘enhance the wellbeing and skills of parents living in poverty to support their child’s learning at home and in nursery’.

An additional £10,000 is earmarked for discretionary school vouchers to help pupils who live in low-income households or have short-term financial needs.

The vouchers would be issued at the discretion of the school management, and approximately 400 students are expected to benefit from them.

Almost £60,000 would have to be spent on additional staff to carry out a ‘significant volume of work required to process hardship payments under tight deadlines’.

Almost £25,000 each would be given to Dunterlie Foodshare and Thornliebank Foodshare to provide food vouchers, alongside the existing food supply, create greater awareness of the projects and expand the support available to those using the services.

There could be £25,000 for the development of green business initiatives and £35,000 to create a black and minority ethnic business network, which would include finding businesses ‘in need of support and businesses that can offer peer support”.

It would also develop a “suite of documents in the required languages ​​and relevant business topics”.

The funding was provided by the Scottish Government’s £80m Covid Economic Stimulus Pot, which was announced in February.

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