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Council free up £1.4m for corona hardship

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A HARDSHIP fund has been set up by Dumfries and Galloway Council aimed at the region’s most vulnerable residents and those experiencing poverty during the coronavirus outbreak.

At a meeting on Friday, councillors agreed to allocate £1.48m towards housing and homelessness, food, connectivity and general support and advice. The funding will go straight to local community and voluntary organisations as quickly as possible to enable them to respond to local needs.

In addition, there is £579,000 in the Scottish Welfare Fund available for food and fuel.

A council spokesman said: “This means we are able to support our communities over a wide remit of need and we would encourage you to get in touch if you are experiencing hardship at: CV19community@dumgal.gov.uk We are in constant communication with community groups to identify pressures – so that we can target the correct support to where it’s most needed. This may be in the form of funding, or access to our council resources.

“Working with volunteers through Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, we have already deployed people, equipment and transport and we will continue to adapt so that the appropriate help is given where it is required. During this unprecedented crisis this council recognises that there will be other exceptional factors to take into account, so we will do what we can to alleviate financial pressure on people.”

Other measures taken by councillors include:

  • the suspension of the planned burial charge increase for this year and headstone costs
  • Surcharges for burials will also be scrapped, no matter what day they take place
  • Council Tax arrears recovery has been put on hold
  • £100,000 has been allocated for clothing grants; £70,000 for taxi cards for those with a barrier to transport; £45,000 for community transport
  • The Welfare, Homelessness Options Team has also been given £55,000 for issues arising.

Council leader Dr Elaine Murray said: “We have acted immediately to allocate our share of Scottish Government funding so that we can meet pressures and help those experiencing hardship. We are also allocating the majority of our council’s 20/21 Tackling Poverty Fund to ensure that we are not only helping with the current crisis but are prepared to help those in need once the health crisis is over. Although financial help is our prime focus, we are also able to help our communities in practical ways, allowing for the current health guidelines, and I would urge our community councils and community groups to get in touch if you have a problem to see if we can assist.”

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