Aberdeenshire Council cost of living release

By bellmannews / October 19, 2022

Launch of Live Life Essentials just one key element of Aberdeenshire Council’s response to cost of living issues

The launch of free services at Aberdeenshire community and leisure facilities is the latest in a range of things being put in place in an attempt to soften the cost of living crisis being felt by Aberdeenshire communities.

Live Life Essentials has been introduced by Life Life Aberdeenshire – the sports and culture service of Aberdeenshire Council – to support communities who are being heavily impacted by current financial and energy challenges.

The initiative – which will develop and grow in the coming months – will provide opportunities for people to use these facilities, stay warm and drive real purpose from their visit without fear of stigma:

  • Pop along to a library to pick up a book, stay in the comfort of your home to read an e-Book through a Digital Library or virtually flick through the day’s newspapers and magazines
  • Charge your mobile devices and access WiFi or access the showers at one of LLA’s sports and leisure venues
  • Soak up some culture at a local museum or get access to a computer through a library

Live Life Essentials forms part of a wider cross-service approach by Aberdeenshire Council as we develop our partnership approach to working with communities, families and individuals.

There is an increasing and pressing need across communities for support, be that demonstrated through an increasing need for food parcels, increasing rent arrears, increasing number of referrals for mental health support or a reduction in available finances.

A dedicated page has been set up on the Council website, which you can also find on the homepage: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/communities-and-events/cost-of-living/

Support for households

We know many people are struggling with the cost of living just now and we are signposting our communities to the different types of support available, whether it’s government financial help to services and advice available locally.

Among the information available are details around the Low-Income Cost of Living Payment, Council Tax Reduction, the Scottish Welfare Fund and Housing Benefit.

We can also direct you to details on Discretionary Housing Payments, access to free period products, getting help with energy bills and advice on reducing fuel bills.

There is also guidance on there for how communities can be supported at a local level with school meals.

The Worried About Money leaflet also has all the support in one place for those households most affected at https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/982855ef-2bcc-43db-8d37-ef9db3035d85/Aberdeenshire%20Leaflet.pdf?id=3721780  

Aberdeenshire Council also has a range of employability programmes to support people who wish to progress their career and those who have seen their employment status changed. It also provides support for employers through the partnership site at https://employmentconnect.org.uk/

Successful bids for LACER (Local Economic Covid Recovery Fund) monies from the Scottish Government mean support is available for those struggling to pay rent or experiencing food or fuel poverty. This scheme is supported by £1.47 million Scottish Government funding to boost economic recovery after the pandemic and help to address the cost of living crisis. More information on this, and how it ties in with Scotland Loves Local will be available in the coming months.

The council has also significantly increased the support available to the most vulnerable households in Aberdeenshire who are experiencing fuel poverty. Scarf’s Home Energy Advice Team will help people to access the financial and practical support they are eligible for https://www.scarf.org.uk/householder/

Support for tenants

The council currently has a range of housing support and assistance it can provide.

An approach which was originally developed as part of the Covid pandemic response has ensured access to Flexible Funding for tenants experiencing fuel payment pressures. It helps with access to things like carpeting, food shopping vouchers, and includes digital inclusion projects targeting hard to reach groups including Gypsy Travellers.

Our Housing Service was recently successful in bids for Connecting Scotland initiatives aimed at combating digital exclusion which saw £410,000 worth of ICT equipment delivered to tenants. The housing service is a partner in Home Heat Advice Scotland and the Fuel Bank Foundation which means they can provide quick access to those unable to heat their homes or at risk of disconnection from gas and electricity supply.

Aberdeenshire Council also remains committed to a wide-ranging programme of energy efficiency improvements to help its own tenants reduce running costs, carbon emissions and the energy used in our council houses and flats. As part of that improvement works plan we are installing cavity wall, internal and external wall and loft insulation and also installing highly efficient ‘A’ rated windows.

The programme also includes the installation of renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic roof panels for generating electricity and batteries to store this energy.”

The council’s Property and Facilities Management teams are also looking for opportunities

to reduce overall energy consumption which may incorporate reviewed heating schedules, lower thermostat settings, estate rationalisation or net zero projects.

Support for businesses

Aberdeenshire Council economic development teams can provide advice and support to business across the region. It has launched a new business start-up grant scheme funded by the Scottish Government’s Local Economic Covid Recovery Fund (LACER) which allows start-up businesses to apply for a £1,000 grant to help get a new venture off the ground without premises or £3,000 for businesses starting up and taking on premises.

For more information about this and other available support visit https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/support-and-advice/Business-Support/

Support for staff

Through Aberdeenshire Council’s intranet, and platforms for non-networked staff, we are signposting to services on offer. We recognise that a large percentage of our staff are also residents and affected in much the same way so information is being shared via managers and face to face discussions to help staff know where to turn for support.