The Welsh Government has announced a package of expanded measures to help people with the cost-of-living crisis, including a £150 cost-of-living payment to be paid as soon as possible and an extra £200 for low income households through the Winter Fuel Payment next winter.
The funding package is significantly larger than equivalent support provided by the UK Government in England.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said the support reflects the Welsh Government’s priority of “creating a fairer Wales in which no-one is left behind.” She announced the funding as she publishes the supplementary budget later today (15 February).
A £150 cost-of-living payment will be provided to all households who live in properties in council tax bands A-D, as well as recipients of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme in all bands. The Welsh Government will be working with local authorities to provide more detail about how the scheme will operate and will begin making payments as soon as possible.
In addition to this £152m programme, a further £25m will be provided as a discretionary fund for local authorities, allowing councils to use their local knowledge to help households who may be struggling.
In 2022-23 more than £100m will be provided to strengthen other schemes that help people meet the rising costs of living. More money will be provided through the Discretionary Assistance Fund and through the Winter Fuel Support Scheme, which will deliver an additional £200 later this year to hundreds of thousands of low income households.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:
“People are facing very real cost-of-living crisis and urgent, meaningful action is required.
“The Chancellor’s offer at the start of the month fell short of what people needed. We have been able to go above and beyond to provide Welsh households with more help in paying bills, heating homes and putting food on the table.
“In total we are nearly doubling the equivalent support provided by the UK Government for those who need it the most, reflecting our priority of creating a fairer Wales in which no-one is left behind.”
The Discretionary Assistance Fund helps people pay for essential costs such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel. The funding announced today will allow the continuation of more frequent payments for a wider group of people for a further year. Since May 2020, more people have been able to claim more money on a more frequent basis through the Discretionary Assistance Fund, and these additional flexibilities will now be in place until March 2023.
The Winter Fuel Support Scheme enables households to claim a one-off payment of £200 to provide support towards paying winter fuel bills. Its extension will mean the scheme can run next winter and can also reach more households.
The Winter Fuel Support Scheme remains open in this financial year and applications must be received by a local council by 28 February.
Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, said:
“The funding we are announcing today will ensure more people get more support, in what are challenging circumstances for so many families in Wales.
“As bills rise, prices go up and wages are stretched we know people will need help, that’s why I’ve convened a Wales-wide Cost of Living Summit on Thursday 17 February, with over one hundred participants from a wide range of social partners and third sector organisations across Wales to discuss the crisis and the proactive actions we can take to support people across Wales.
"Addressing the cost-of-living crisis remains a crucial priority for this Government and we will continue to consider all the options available to us.”