There With You This Winter: Our new campaign to help those struggling
- Credit: PA
Thousands across the region could face a struggle to pay their bills, fuel their homes and even feed their families this winter.
That is the stark prediction amid fears a perfect storm of financial pressures will push many into hardship over the forthcoming months.
Therefore, today this newspaper is launching a new hard-hitting campaign to recognise the financial challenges some of our readers face, raise awareness and offer support during the cold winter months.
As part of our campaign, 'There With You This Winter', we hope to stand by our communities, just as we did with a series of campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic.
We will not dwell on the things we cannot change, but offer solutions and profile those who have faced hardship and come through the other end in the hope others can be helped in similar ways.
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We will also work closely with the Norfolk Community Foundation to relaunch the annual 'Surviving Winter Appeal' which raises hundreds of thousands of pounds to help those most in need.
As part of the campaign, we pledge to:
- 1 Family forced to live in tent after maggots and rats found in home
- 2 Councils could spend millions to buy former Aviva office for new HQ
- 3 £6.1m shopping street revamp will take half of 2022 to complete
- 4 Five former MoD homes go up for sale near Norwich
- 5 MP and parents concerned over traffic and parking chaos outside school
- 6 Christmas Lights Walk with toasted marshmallows coming to garden
- 7 Two fires in two hours on mid-Norfolk road
- 8 Man arrested on suspicion of stalking after notes left on women's cars
- 9 Blind woman 'humiliated' as restaurant turns her away due to her guide dog
- 10 City keeper diagnosed with testicular cancer
- Profile charities and organisations you can turn to for practical advice
- Offer solutions to cut energy costs and become fuel-efficient
- Publish expert advice on how, and when, to switch suppliers
- Signpost essential nationwide services
- Reveal tips to instantly reduce fuel consumption
- Help you budget for Christmas and get expert advice on family financial planning all year round
- Keep you updated on any grants and support available from government or local authorities
- Bring you the best money-saving tips for everything from running your home, car and reducing your weekly shopping bill
David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press, said: "In the last few weeks we have reported on numerous changes and developments which will hit our communities in the pocket. These include the end of furlough, the end to the £20 Universal Credit increase, rising fuel bills, increased joblessness and more.
"By offering solutions, support and real-life stories, plus raising much-needed cash to support the most vulnerable, we hope this campaign can really make a difference to the communities we serve."
If you have a story as part of the campaign please email email@example.com, heading the email 'There With You' campaign.
The perfect storm
Over the next few months families could face a perfect storm of financial blows.
To those already living on the breadline these will be an incredibly bitter pill to swallow.
It is estimated that from October people will see energy bills soaring by around £140, with a further rise expected in April of around £300 due to the raising of the energy cap.
Consumers will also see their energy bills rise as companies fail, with around a dozen collapsing in the last 12 months alone, and they are transferred onto higher tariffs.
In addition, food prices are set to increase and the Universal Credit has been £20, compounding the pressure on the household budget. There were also predictions this week that council tax rates could see a big increase in 2022.
Add to this the end of furlough and the potential for that to cause more job losses and the immediate predictions are grim.
One of the common ways to determine how many families are struggling financially is through the measurement of those in fuel poverty.
A household is considered to be fuel poor if they live in a property with low energy efficiency and would be pushed below the poverty line by the housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.
Nationally, 13.4pc of families are said to be fuel poor, but in some parts of this region the figures are much worse and as follows:
Breckland - 15.1pc
Broadland - 11.4pc
Great Yarmouth - 16.4pc
King's Lynn and West Norfolk - 17pc
North Norfolk - 15.8pc
Norwich - 18.7pc
South Norfolk - 13.3pc
East Suffolk - 14.3pc
Where you can go for help?
Struggling with your bills and not sure where to turn?
There are plenty of local organisations and support groups offering advice. We will be profiling these throughout the campaign.
Wider financial support is still available for those who need assistance, through the Norfolk Assistance Scheme - please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/NAS or call 0344 8008020.
Suffolk Advice and Support Service (SASS) is a free phoneline and is available to support vulnerable people in our communities. The telephone number is freephone 0800 068 3131 and will be staffed from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Here are some websites worth checking out: